US Helping Peace Talks: Mirwaiz
16 January 2004
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Claiming the US is facilitating the peace process between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue, Hurriyat Conference (Ansari) today said next week's talks between the outfit and the Centre will be a testing ground for New Delhi's sincerity. 'We will go to Delhi in a couple of days and have a chance to see the sincerity of the Government of India in resolving the Kashmir issue,' former Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq told a Friday congregation here. 'We will talk to the government and put forth our case. We have a strong case to plead for resolution of the Kashmir issue,' said Mirwaiz, a member of the Hurriyat delegation that is to hold talks with Deputy PM L.K. Advani. Mirwaiz said that during his recent visit to Delhi, a high-level US delegation informed him about Washington's efforts to improve relations between India and Pakistan, to create a conducive atmosphere for talks. 'I was shown a report on how the US will facilitate talks between India and Pakistan. And believe me, the process is progressing exactly along those lines,' he said, adding he was assured by the delegation that the people's wishes and aspirations would not be ignored. Describing the recent developments as positive, Mirwaiz said the talks were a chance to resolve the Kashmir issue with 'honour and dignity and put an end to bloodshed in the state'. 'New Delhi's invitation for talks is a vindication of our stand. We had asked for an unconditional dialogue, outside the Constitution and centred around the resolution of Kashmir, and the invite has all of it,' he said. 'Two years ago, the government was adamant. Today, the same government has invited us for talks.' He said since India was not ready for tripartite talks at the outset, the Hurriyat agreed to simultaneous talks between India and Pakistan, and the Centre and the amalgam. 'At a later stage, all the three parties to the dispute will sit across the table and hammer out a solution,' he said. In the second phase, he feels, the Hurriyat leadership should be allowed to visit Pakistan to talk with Kashmiri and militant leaders there.