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2nd round of PM, Hurriyat Conference talks tom

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, May 2: A six-member moderate Hurriyat Conference delegation, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, will hold second round of talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here tomorrow and present ''fresh and concrete'' proposals aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue.

The Prime Minister will seek an assurance from the separatist leaders at the meeting, held seven months after the first round of parleys on September 5 last year, regarding their participation in May 25 Kashmir roundtable in Srinagar.

The meeting will play a ''crucial'' role in the separatist leaders' decision to attend the Kashmir conclave.

The Hurriyat Conference, however, will not submit a fresh list of demands to Dr Singh.

The amalgam yesterday announced the six-member delegation comprising Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, Maulana Abbas Ansari, Bilal Ghani Lone, Fazal Haq Qureshi and Aga Syed Hassan, besides the Mirwaiz.

Dr Singh is likely to be assisted by National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, Principal Secretary to the PM T K A Nair and Jammu and Kashmir interlocutor N N Vohra besides other officials at the meeting.

The Mirwaiz said tomorrow's meeting will focus on proposals aimed at finding a permanent and amicable solution to the Kashmir issue.

''No action was taken on our demands presented during the first meeting with Dr Singh in September last year,'' the Mirwaiz said.

However, Mirwaiz Farooq said the Hurriyat leaders will put forth some ''fresh and concrete'' proposals to the Prime Minister.

''Our main focus this time will be on finding a permanent and amicable solution to the Kashmir issue,'' he added.

The Mirwaiz said the second round of talks with the Prime Minister would be in continuation with the ''triangular dialogue process'' between India, Pakistan and the Hurriyat Conference.

The Hurriyat leaders have met Pakistani leadership, including President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, several times after last year's talks with Dr Singh, he added.

''At the meeting, we will also discuss the outcome of our talks with the Pakistani leadership,'' the Hurriyat Chairman said.

About the second roundtable, the Mirwaiz said the Hurriyat Conference will take a decision on taking part in the conference only after its talks with the Prime Minister on May 3.

''The Hurriyat Conference did not take part in the first round- table conference in New Delhi because we did not want to become a part of the crowd. Important issues are not discussed and resolved at a crowded meeting,'' he added.

Sources said the Hurriyat leaders wanted to hold separate discussions with the Prime Minister to explain their stand on several issues, including the roundtable.

Almost all top separatists, including the Hurriyat leaders, did not attend the first roundtable, held at the Prime Minister's 7 Race Course Residence on February 25.

After receiving the invitation on April 28, the Mirwaiz termed as ''good and appropriate'' the Prime Minister's decision.

''It is a good and appropriate decision. The main problem is between New Delhi and the Hurriyat Conference. Therefore, New Delhi should hold talks with the separatists only,'' the Mirwaiz said.

During the September 5 meeting, the Prime Minister assured the separatist that a slew of measures, including troop reduction and time-bound review of cases under the Public Safety Act and POTA, will be considered for restoring peace in Jammu and Kashmir if violence and infiltration came to an end. Both the sides agreed to carry forward the dialogue process so that all regions and shades of political opinion in the state were involved.

In a series of measures to broaden the scope of the dialogue beyond the Hurriyat Conference and arrive at a consensus on the vexed Kashmir issue, the Prime Minister first invited Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Ghani Lone on January 14 for talks.

On February 17, Dr Singh held a dialogue with pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Yasin Malik.

On February 25, Dr Singh convened the first ever all party conclave to ascertain views of all groups, including political leaders, separatists, academicians, NGO's and others from Jammu and Kashmir and arrive at a broad-based consensus on the imbroglio.

The move was dubbed as a ''bold initiative'' towards resolution of the Kashmir issue but lost much of its sheen due to non-participation of the secessionists.

Around 50 people were invited to the conference, which was also attended by Home Minister Shivraj Patil and several senior officials.

In 2004, the Hurriyat had held two rounds of talks with the previous NDA government.

The then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani had twice met the Hurriyat leaders -- first on January 22, 2004 and later on March 27 the same year.


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