Govt ready to talk to all groups in J&K: PM
29 July 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the Government is willing to talk to all groups of people and various shades of political opinion in Jammu and Kashmir, but remained non-commital on whether he himself would hold the dialogue. 'We are willing to talk to all groups of people and various shades of political opinion in Jammu and Kashmir,' the Prime Minister told reporters at the IGI airport here before leaving for Thailand on a two-day visit to participate in the BIMST-EC conference. Asked whether he would himself hold talks with the Hurriyat, as demanded by the conglomerate, he evaded a direct reply and said there had not been any such discussion. 'There has been no discussion of that sort,' he said. The Centre has proposed the third round of talks with the Hurriyat in July end or early August. However, there has been no response from the Hurriyat yet. The Hurriyat is currently trying to forge unity among its two factions—one lead by hardliner Ali Shah Geelani which is opposed to talks, and the other more moderate faction in favour of the dialogue. Maulana Abbas Ansari, chairman of the moderate faction which held two rounds of talks with the then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, resigned and asked Mirwaiz Omar Farooq to take over. However, the Mirwaiz has not yet formally taken over as chairman.