December 2006 News

Four-member US Delegation Meets JKLF Chief In Srinagar

12 December 2006

Srinagar: A US delegation is in the Kashmir valley on a study tour. The four member delegation led by a State Department representative met the JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik and leaders of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference in its first phase of interactions with separatist leaders. Other members of the delegation are from the American embassy in New Delhi. The US delegation was led by the US State Department representative Virgnia Paimar and comprised Thedore Osius and two Indian members of the embassy Atul Keshap and Kailash Jha. The team started a series of interactions with separatist leaders immediately on its arrival, and held meetings with Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and executive member Bilal Ghani Lone at the alliance's headquarters. The team had a two-and-a-half-hour meeting with JKLF chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik, at his residence on Sunday evening to discussing various aspects related to the Kashmir issue. Apprising the team about his stand, the JKLF leader was understood to have communicated his concern over the human rights situation in the state. Malik was learnt to have told the US State Department team that Kashmiris were seeking their birthright and that no law in the world could stop a human being from struggling for his birthright. The delegation has plans to meet other separatist leaders as well. Meanwhile Mirwaiz Umer left for Northern Ireland to study the Irish peace process for possible solutions to the Kashmir dispute. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq heads the moderate faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. He said the grouping was conducting an 'extensive study' of peace agreements around the world. 'The visit to Belfast is purely to acquaint myself with the Good Friday peace deal,' Farooq said before flying out from New Delhi. 'I will try to meet the parties involved and try to understand if there are any similarities between the Irish and Kashmiri problems and if that agreement can help in resolving the Kashmir dispute,' Farooq said. Farooq is also lined up for a visit to Norway, where he will meet diplomats involved in talks between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers. 'I will be meeting them in Oslo. I want to understand how they managed to bring two warring sides to the table,' he said. Farooq's faction has held several rounds of talks with New Delhi, despite opposition by hardline rebels and separatists. But he said 'nothing substantive' has emerged from the talks.


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