The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Big menu on PM, Pervez table

New Delhi, April 3: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could have more than one meeting with Pervez Musharraf when the Pakistan President is in Delhi to watch the one-day match between India and Pakistan on April 17, said sources in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

They said Singh could meet Musharraf either on April 16 or 17. If the first meeting is 'inconclusive' ' since the two leaders are expected to discuss a gamut of issues ' a second one will be planned.

'The discussions will be on anything as long as they do not involve change of borders and territories,' a source said.

The process of setting up the meetings has begun. Musharraf is likely to call on several politicians, including the leader of Opposition and BJP chief, L.K. Advani.

The sources are hopeful that though there has been no word from Islamabad after some militants threatened to attack passengers who board the first Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus on April 7, Pakistan will do its 'best' to ensure that the event passes off peacefully.

'We have not heard anything from Pakistan. But surely Pakistan is as interested in the bus trip passing off peacefully as we are. A far greater part of the blame will be on Pakistan than India (if anything untoward happens),' the source said.

Asked how India is internally addressing the Kashmir question and whether there is any forward movement after the Hurriyat Conference refused to meet central emissaries, including the adviser on Kashmir, N.N. Vohra, the sources said the PMO felt that all groups must be talked to, including the Hurriyat.

'If the Hurriyat is willing to come on board and start talking, we can discuss all issues, including that of autonomy,' the source said.

It is believed that the Centre has been speaking to representatives of the groups in the Valley and the next step will be to 'cull out the essence' of the interactions and seek policy directions from the 'essence'.

In the backdrop of Musharraf's visit, the process of back-channel diplomacy is being revived with the first meeting between S.K. Lambah, the retired diplomat appointed to carry on the talks, and Tariq Aziz, the secretary of Pakistan's national security council, expected soon. The process was interrupted by the death of national security adviser J.N. Dixit.

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