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British envoy meets J&K separatist leaders

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
March 26, 2004 00:50 IST

British High Commissioner Sir Michael Arthur arrived in Srinagar on Thursday as part of this three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

On his first day yesterday, Sir Michael met state Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and praised his healing touch policy.

In Srinagar the British envoy called on the senior Kashmiri separatist leader and chairman of the Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Ahmad Shah to get an 'on the ground assessment of the situation'.

"I briefed the British High Commissioner about the ground situation and the ongoing peace process," Shah told after the meeting. "I told him there has been no change in the ground situation and I expressed my concern to him over the deteriorating human rights situation in the valley."

"I told him that Kashmiris welcome the fast improving relations between India and Pakistan, which will lead to the solution of the Kashmir dispute," he said. "I also told the high commissioner that Kashmiris were the main party to the dispute and should be included for solving the problem."

Sir Michael later in the evening met the pro-Independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik.

The British envoy, along with a team of diplomats, also called on Governor Lt General S K Sinha at Raj Bhawan and had a 45-minute chat with him.

"The thaw in Indo-Pak ties have brightened the prospect for peace in Jammu and Kashmir, providing a hope among the people for better days," Sinha told the envoy.

The British envoy also called on Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma.

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar