The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hawks hold hands for peace

New Delhi, July 21: Hardliners were talking peace today. Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam chief Fazl-ur Rehman discussed ways to establish durable peace in the sub-continent with VHP leaders Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Acharya Giriraj Kishore here today.

Rehman emerged from his 50-minute meeting with the VHP president and vice-president holding hands and willing to oblige photographers.

“We are very happy and have discussed ways to find peace in the region,” Rehman said of the meeting, which he described as most encouraging. He declined to reveal details, saying these were not meant to be shared with the media. Dalmiya concurred.

The Jamiat chief, who is also secretary-general of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal that has been accused of trying to “Talibanise” Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, had met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee yesterday.

Today’s meeting took place in the conference room of a five-star hotel in Connaught Place. Rajya Sabha MP Lalit Suri and Lahore-based Imtiaz Alam, who works for Pakistan daily The News, were present.

Asked for his reaction, Dalmiya said: “We want to have a peaceful atmosphere like our Pakistani friends....We welcomed our Pakistani brothers to maintain our tradition of treating guests with all due respect,” he added.

Rehman also met senior RSS leader H.V. Seshadri. During his meeting, Rehman said the Ayodhya controversy is India’s internal matter.

Earlier, Rehman called on Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and said efforts should be made to resolve bilateral issues through talks.

The Jamiat chief said the Pakistan government and political parties favoured a negotiated settlement. He said his delegation was in India to explore peace and was overwhelmed by the response of the people. Rehman said he would carry home the message of “peace and friendship”.

Mulayam welcomed the Jamiat chief’s visit. The Samajwadi leader said this would encourage more people-to-people contact between the two countries. Indians have always favoured resolution of disputes through talks, Mulayam said.

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