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'Citizens of Kashmir are citizens of India'
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February 28, 2006 23:50 IST

Days after George W Bush [Images] said a solution to Kashmir issue should be acceptable to 'those living within Kashmir', India  asserted on Tuesday that residents of the state were 'citizens of India'. New Delhi made it clear that it will convey to the US President that the issues between the state and the Union were being addressed.

"The position is very clear. The issue of Jammu and Kashmir [Images], in so far as it relates to the relationship between the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India, and the Government of India, which is already being addressed in dialogue that is taking place," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told reporters here.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] recently had a roundtable on Jammu and Kashmir, he said, when referring to Bush's recent comment.

"As far as the issue between India and Pakistan is concerned, that, too, is being addressed," Saran said. He pointed out that the Composite Dialogue was underway between the two countries, under which the issue was being addressed. He added India will emphasise this position if the matter is raised in the talks between Bush and Dr Singh.

When pointed out that Bush had spoken about acceptability of 'those living in Kashmir', the Foreign Secretary said, "The citizens of Kashmir are citizens of India."

Echoing Pakistan's line, Bush had, on February 22, advocated a solution to the Kashmir issue that is acceptable to India, Pakistan and 'those living within Kashmir'. Ahead of his visit to the two countries, Bush went out of his way to emphasise that a solution had to be 'acceptable to all sides'.

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