January 2004 News

New Delhi invites APHC for talks

13 January 2004
The Dawn

SRINAGAR: The Indian government on Tuesday formally invited Kashmiri leaders for talks on January 22 aimed at finding a solution to the long- standing dispute in the Himalayan region. Chairman of his own faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference Maulvi Abbas Ansari said he received a formal invitation on Tuesday for talks on the future of Kashmir in New Delhi with Indian Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani. It will be the first-ever talks between the two parties as the Indian government has never held direct consultations with the APHC. New Delhi's invitation has come at a time when the Kashmiri leadership is facing a division between hardliners and moderates. Hardliners in September expressed no confidence in the moderate leadership of Abbas Ansari and named Syed Ali Geelani as their leader. They claim their faction is the real Hurriyat. Kashmiri freedom fighters and Pakistan have backed the Geelani-led faction of Hurriyat. Syed Ali Shah Geelani has always maintained that talks on Kashmir without including Pakistan were futile. Abbas Ansari hailed the faxed invitation and said he would discuss it with other Hurriyat leaders within the next few days. 'We welcome the invitation. We had asked for talks at the highest level and we have got the same,' he told AFP. 'The executive council and the general council will be meeting on Thursday and we will decide who will go to Delhi,' he said. 'There is no going back on the talks. We are for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute,' he said.-Agencies


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