Kashmiri separatist groups have welcomed United States President Barack Obama's statement that Jammu and Kashmir was 'a longstanding dispute between India and Pakistan which the two neighbours must resolve'.
Welcoming the statement of the US president, the hard-line senior separatist leader and chairman of his All Parties Hurriyat Conference group, Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that the admission of 'Jammu and Kashmir as a dispute was the result of the five month long peaceful struggle during which 112 youth sacrificed their lives and which caused huge losses to the people in general'.
"By recognising Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed region Obama has only acknowledged a reality consistent with our stand," Geelani who has been spearheading the five month long agitation in Kashmir said in a statement.
He said, "India must also recognise the disputed nature, stop calling it an integral part and initiate steps to resolve it as per the wishes and aspiration of the majority of the people who made exemplary sacrifices for it'.
Chairman of the moderate APHC, Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq said, "The US President has vindicated our stand on Kashmir and more significantly he has also not ruled out a US role in the resolution of this dispute'.
"It is a triumph of the sacrifices of the Kashmir people. Kashmiri leadership is ready to act as a bridge between India and Pakistan for the resolution of Kashmir issue and India must also adopt a positive attitude," the Mirwaiz said.
Pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik also welcomed the US President's reference to 'Kashmir as a longstanding dispute'.
"We appeal the US President to press for the inclusion of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the resolution of this dispute as it concerns the political destiny of the people here", Malik said.
"The international community and the US in particular must respect the transition of Kashmiri struggle from a violent one to a non-violent movement for their freedom and play an effective role in impressing upon both India and Pakistan to resolve the issue," he added.