Centre Hurriyat Talks In Second Week Of September
28 August 2005
New Delhi: The first round of talks between the Prime Minister and Hurriyat and other separatist leaders all set to take place in the second week of September before Dr Manmohan Singh meets Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in New York. Sources said that a team of senior officials is already in touch with the representatives of various separatists in this regard and it is actively involved in addressing the details of the crucial dialogue. Centre's Interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir N N Vohra has already visited the state a few days back and Panchayati Raj Secretary Wajahat Habibullah was sent to Kashmir for the preparing the ground for the talks. The sources said a team of senior functionaries was expected to visit Kashmir again in the first week of September to meet moderate Hurriyat leaders, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yaseen Malik and Democratic Freedom Party Head Shabir Shah. An invitation is also expected to be extended to hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Geelani had not expressed any interest in the talks with the Centre and he also kept away from the first two rounds of the dialogue the moderates had with the then NDA government. The sources said several former bureaucrats and diplomats are actively engaged in backdoor diplomacy for some time to persuade the separatist to enter into the dialogue. The meeting, before the New York visit of the Prime Minister to attend the UN General Assembly session, is the first since the Congress-led UPA government came to power in May 2004. Dr Singh in his Independence day speech renewed the talks offer to Kashmiri separatists but warned of a 'befitting reply and hard response' if militants continued with violence. 'I have said before and I am repeating once again that there is no issue which cannot be resolved through the process of discussion and dialogue. Our doors are always open and will continue to be open for anybody interested in dialogue.' Leaders of the moderate Hurriyat Conference have so far held two rounds of talks with the previous BJP-led NDA government. Then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani had held talks with the Mirwaiz Omar Farooq-led moderate Hurriyat delegation Comprising Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, Maulana Abbas Ansari and Bilal Lone.