On a visit here to assess the security situation in the Valley in wake of fresh violence, a senior home ministry official said on Sunday that dialogue was the only way to resolve the Kashmir issue.
"Dialogue is the only way to resolve all the issues. The sooner the dialogue is initiated the better it is. There have been instances all over the world which have strengthened the belief that dialogue is the only way to resolve problems," U K Bansal, special secretary (Internal Security) in the Union home ministry, said.
However, he made it clear that he has not come to Kashmir to do spade work for initiation of a dialogue with separatists.
He also said it was not for him to say what the terms of the dialogue would be.
Bansal, who arrived here yesterday, had met Governor N N Vohra and discussed the overall security situation in the state.
"Issues pertaining to security environment in the state figured during the meeting lasting an hour," an official spokesman said.
Bansal said, "It is certain that you (separatists and protesters) have to come to the table for talks to resolve the issue. You cannot embark on a journey without a vehicle and dialogue is the vehicle for the solution," Bansal said.
Bansal did not agree with a reporter who said the Centre was delaying the dialogue.
"It is not the Centre which is delaying the talks. There are some factors for delay. These factors are coming in the way of initiation of a meaningful dialogue."
In reply to a question, he said, "It is never late to start... (dialogue)".
Bansal replied in the negative when asked whether he met any separatist leaders in the Valley, saying, "I have not come here to initiate dialogue with separatists or to do the spade work in this regard".
However, he said he met officials who are involved in the law and order situation.
To a question relating to revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Bansal said, "It is a decision to be taken at a highest level. The clearance in this regard will be given or finalised at a highest level".
Asked to give his assessment of the situation in Kashmir, Bansal said: "I am poorly equipped and it is too early to make any assessment -- short-term assessment. I have not come here to make any assessment or statement. I have come here to educate myself about the situation and report back."
About the issue of alleged threatening letters to the Sikhs, he said protection of Sikh community is the responsibility of the state government.However, if the state government needs assistance it will be extended by the Centre, he said.