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PM speaks to Mufti, invites for talks
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March 18, 2007 17:17 IST

In the face of growing strains in the ruling Congress-People's Democratic Party coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to PDP leader Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and invited him for talks on Tuesday to resolve the differences.

Though there was no official confirmation to this, PDP sources said the prime minister asked the former chief minister on Saturday night to come to Delhi for the parleys.

The PDP patron is understood to have agreed to the talks, which are aimed at easing the widening rift between the two coalition partners.

Ahead of the possible talks, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has already arrived in Delhi and is likely to hold talks with the central leadership.

PDP, which has been considering pulling out from the ruling coalition following resentment in the party, had been sending feelers to the Congress to work out a face-saving solution in regard to its demands.

The demands include troop reduction in civilian areas, repealing of Armed Forces Special Powers Act and vacating army personnel from civilian properties.

The prime minister, last week, while appreciating the concerns of Mufti Sayeed, had turned down 'for time being', the proposal about troop reduction.

The letter of the prime minister could not be seen as an escape route for the PDP, whose stakes had increased after making the demand.

Consequently, the the junior ally stayed away from the state cabinet meeting again on Sunday for the third consecutive time.

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