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July 29, 2000
Hizbul welcomes Centre's offer for talks
Hizbul Mujahideen today welcomed the Centre's offer for talks on Kashmir, but said it was awaiting a formal invitation from the Prime Minister's Office.
Talking to Star News from Srinagar, a Hizbul spokesman described the Centre's offer as "a positive development."
He said though the prime minister, in his response to Hizbul's unilateral cease-fire, had said that negotiations must take place within the framework of the Indian Constitution, this time he has not mentioned the Constitution anywhere. "This is the reason why we are calling it a positive development."
When asked if the Hizbul leadership would come out of its hideouts to hold talks as requested by the PMO, the spokesman said it was too early to get into details.
Advani, meanwhile, speaking to newspersons in Delhi today, said there was an element of caution in the Centre's approach to Hizbul's offer for negotiations.
When asked if security forces would suspend operations against militants in Kashmir, Advani said: "All I would say at this juncture is that we have decided to hold talks with the Hizbul and the security forces have been involved in this exercise."
He said the incidence of violence had seen a decline in the Valley after Hizbul's cease-fire announcement. "The security forces have responded in an appropriate manner to this development."
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