Lone terms talks with Manmohan positive
14 January 2006
New Delhi: A Kashmiri separatist leader described talks on Saturday with the Indian premier as “very positive,” but admitted that a solution to years of conflict in disputed Kashmir was still a long way off. “Some people want overnight results, but this is not possible. The process is lengthy and will take some time,” Sajjad Lone told reporters in New Delhi, according to the Press Trust of India. The pro- independence Kashmiri leader was speaking after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for more than an hour. Mr Singh has vowed to meet all leading Kashmiri separatist figures in the held territory to try to end unrest in the region after an insurgency erupted in 1989. It has claimed at least 44,000 lives since then. Kashmiri separatists — whose demands range from independence to merger with Pakistan — have been demanding tripartite talks involving India, Pakistan and the “true representatives” of the Kashmiri people. They also demand the implementation of decades-old UN Security Council resolutions calling for a plebiscite in the region on its future. India says the UN resolutions are obsolete and the dispute over Kashmir, which it describes “as an integral part of its territory”, must be resolved bilaterally with Pakistan. Mr Singh held in September his first direct talks with a moderate faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, the main umbrella body grouping the Kashmiri separatists. The talks followed a visit by some of its members to Pakistan in June. The moderates held two rounds of talks with the previous Hindu nationalist government in 2004 on the future of Kashmir, but a hardline splinter group rejected any dialogue with New Delhi.