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For peace in Kashmir, PM ready to talk to separatists

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Press Trust Of India

Last Updated: October 10, 2008, 22:01 IST

For peace in Kashmir, PM ready to talk to separatists

Manmohan Singh urges Pak to start dialogue process again.

Srinagar: The Government is ready to talk to separatists in Kashmir to bring peace to the region, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday.

"We are not opposed to a dialogue with any section in Kashmir's public opinion,” he said when asked about the demand of separatists for tripartite dialogue involving Kashmiris in the Indo-Pak peace process. "If any separatist group wants to meet with the Government, they are welcome. Before I jump to the issue of tripartite negotiations, let us explore all bilateral options."

"The Government will welcome dialogue with all sections of people. This also includes who have so far opted to stay out of the political process," said Singh at a press conference in Srinagar.

“It has been our belief even the most difficult issues can be resolved through dialogue," he said in a statement hinting at the recent protests led by the Hurriyat Conference against a land grant to the Amarnath shrine.

The Centre and separatists have not held talks for the last four years. "I urge that who ever has complaints and grievances should come forward for dialogue. At an appropriate stage, I would also be happy to meet them," he said.

The Prime Minister expressed his Government's keenness for normalisation of its relations with Pakistan. "Good relations with Pakistan is an essential part of our policy. My vision of India-Pakistan is that both countries situate their bilateral relations in a cooperative framework

of mutual understanding.

"We seek the normalisation of relationship with Pakistan, a solution of all issues that cause estrangement including Jammu and Kashmir through dialogue and peaceful negotiations in an atmosphere free of violence," Singh said.

"While we cannot change borders, we can make them irrelevant. We must create conditions whereby a Kashmiri living in Srinagar or Muzzafarabad (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) should not see any problem" about people-to-people contacts, Singh said.

first published:October 10, 2008, 22:01 IST
last updated:October 10, 2008, 22:01 IST