April 2005 News

Kashmir moderates to resume talks

19 April 2005
The Dawn

Srinagar: Moderate separatists in Kashmir said on Tuesday they were willing to resume talks with New Delhi to end the long-running dispute over the restive region's future. But hard liners said they were still holding out for trilateral talks involving India, Pakistan and Kashmiris to end the row over Kashmir. 'We're willing to resume talks with New Delhi,' Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, head of the moderate wing of held Kashmir's main separatist alliance, Hurriyat, said in the Indian zone's main city, Srinagar. 'But later we should be allowed to visit Pakistan... to push the peace process forward,' he said. 'We want to talk to militant leaders there and also with political leadership in Azad Kashmir.' Mir Farooq and his supporters and separatist hard liner Syed Ali Geelani and his backers met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf separately in New Delhi during a three-day visit to India that ended on Monday. Both countries declared their 14-month peace process 'irreversible' and pledged to reach a 'final settlement' on Kashmir. Musharraf said in a broadcast by Pakistan TV late Monday that Indian Kashmir separatist leaders should use 'their brains' and join talks with India as it would be a step toward trilateral talks, The Press Trust of India reported. Geelani said Musharraf had urged the two factions to speak with one voice to New Delhi. 'Pakistan desires separatist unity,' Mr Geelani told Kashmir's Current News Service. 'But I can't break my principles to forge unity for the sake of unity.' Hard liners broke away from Hurriyat in 2003 after moderates said they were open to talks with New Delhi. Mr Farooq said Musharraf appreciated his 'step- by step approach' towards resolving the issue of divided Kashmir.


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