EU Team Holds Talks With Hurriyat, Others
27 September 2004
The Asian Age
Srinagar: A five-member European Union delegation, which arrived here on Monday on a four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, has held discussions with the leaders of both separatist and mainstream politicians, besides trade representatives. The visit precedes the 'Kashmir EU Week' being held in the European Parliament in Brussels from October 11 'to permit an exchange of views between individuals concerned with forwarding the dialogue towards finding a peaceful resolution to the issue of Kashmir.' Several Kashmiri leaders and opinion-makers have been invited to the event, which confirms the EU's growing interest in the Kashmir issue. The aim of the 'Kashmir EU Week,' said Mr James Elles MEP, member of the European Parliament, in his invitation letter to the prospective Kashmiri participants, is also to 'bring awareness of Kashmir to Europeans.' It would be a joint initiative of the All-Party Group for Kashmir in the European Parliament and the ICHR Kashmir Centre, EU, in Brussels, he added. Back in Srinagar, the EU delegation, on the first day of its visit, met the office-bearers of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss the 'issues of mutual interest' that mainly included the state's ailing economy as a result of the turmoil. 'We are here to meet different shades of opinion and try to know what they think on the issue of Kashmir and related issues,' said EU delegation leader, Netherlands ambassador Eric F. Ch. Niehe. The other members of the delegation are Luxembourg ambassador Paul Steinmetz, European Commission ambassador Francisco da Camara Gomes, British High Commission political counsellor Rob Macaire and Netherlands embassy first secretary Erik de Feijter. After its meeting with the representatives of trade, the delegation closeted with the leaders of moderate faction of the HC in Rajbagh. Among the prominent amalgam leaders present were Prof. Abdul Gani Butt and Maulvi Abbas Ansari. 'We discussed Kashmir with reference to the speeches delivered by the two leaders (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf) in the General Assembly session as well as their meeting later and the smile on their lips, which eluded to a bright future and a better world.' Prof. Gani added, 'This was also discussed in the backdrop of the changes shaping in terms of the mindset, the attitudes and the approach with regard to resolving disputes permanently but peacefully through a dialogue.' He further said that he and others told the delegation 'probably without mincing any words, that if the dialogue process is to yield any tangible result, the Indian and Pakistani leaderships will have to involve the principal party, that is the people of Kashmir.' The moderate Hurriyat faction leaders also tried to impress on the ambassadors that the amalgam favoured dialogue with India as well as Pakistan 'with a view to achieving what the leaders of the sub- continent now say would be an acceptable and honourable solution of Kashmir problem.'