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Hurriyat for peace talks speed

New York, Sept. 17 (PTI): Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Omar Farooq has met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for the third time in five months and regretted the “slow” pace of the Indo-Pak peace process.

The meeting at the Roosevelt Hotel here last night came two days after the dinner summit between Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, widely seen as unfruitful.

During the meeting, which lasted over an hour, Farooq briefed Musharraf on the Hurriyat’s talks with Singh in New Delhi on September 5 and expressed support for the Indo-Pak dialogue.

“Hurriyat Conference feels that we need to strengthen the bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan,” Farooq said. “But along with this, we believe that there is a need to speed up the dialogue process and have more confidence-building measures.”

Farooq, who had met Musharraf in Delhi in April and later in Islamabad in June, said: “For the first time, we, the Kashmiris, feel we are being involved into it (the peace process).”

He said the Hurriyat wants Kashmiri leaders to be associated with the talks, which has not happened yet. But the fact that both Singh and Musharraf are talking to them shows that Kashmiris are being indirectly associated with the Indo-Pak dialogue on Kashmir.

“The matter looks fast becoming triangular,” Farooq said, “and it is very much in sight; so, we as the concerned party, support it.”

He said the Hurriyat has certain proposals that it wants to present before both Delhi and Islamabad.

Farooq said the Hurriyat would put forward its proposals to Singh during the second round of talks with him, which it intends to hold soon. After that, the Kashmiri leaders hope to visit Pakistan again. He, however, did not say what the proposals are.

Farooq said the meeting with Musharraf was fruitful, for the President “supported our stand”.

Pakistani officials announced that Musharraf has invited Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to visit Pakistan.

Mehbooba Mufti, Sayeed’s daughter and an MP, and Omar Abdullah, president of opposition National Conference, will visit Pakistan ahead of Mufti’s visit, the Pakistani media reported.

Asked if he supported the visit to Pakistan by the Mufti and Mehbooba, Farooq said: “Why not, since they have already expressed their intention, they may like to do so.”

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