After long gap, Azad and Mufti to meet at Kashmir talks
20 April 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
Jammu: After avoiding each other for the past four months, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and his predecessor Mufti Mohammad Sayeed will face each other at the third round table conference on Kashmir in New Delhi April 24.The two, representing two major parties in the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, have been avoiding each other, particularly after the controversy over the de-militarization took roots in the political discourse of the state.Azad and the Peoples Democratic Party patron live close to one another in Srinagar. In Jammu too, their homes are close by. But neither has spoken to one another on telephone, leave alone having one-on-one meetings, for at least four months.But now they would be seeing each other, they might possibly speak to each other, their aides said. They have not shunned their adversarial positions on the issue of troops reduction in Jammu and Kashmir. On Thursday, Mufti Sayeed asked for immediate steps for the withdrawal of troops, while the chief minister attended a rally the same day in Sunderbani in Jammu region where he declared: 'There would be no de-militarization until there is complete peace. For me politics is subservient to peoples' safety.'It is in this background that the two leaders would be attending the meet in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.The last time Azad and Mufti had met was in early January when the chief minister had called on the PDP patron to enquire about his health. After that there has been no meeting.Azad missed attending two dinners - held for the visiting Dubai ruler and for SAARC leaders in New Delhi - during this period. But Mufti Sayeed attended them.Both Mufti and Azad would leave Sunday for New Delhi.