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CMs' meeting begins in Srinagar

By Onkar Singh in Srinagar
August 27, 2003 21:24 IST
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The eighth meeting of the Inter-State Council began in Srinagar's Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre amidst tight security on Wednesday.

The meeting began half an hour lateĀ at 1630 IST after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee arrived at the centre.

Apart from chief ministers of ten states, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, Union Minister for Law and Justice Arun Jaitely and Labour Minister Sahib Singh Verma are among those attending the meeting.

In his opening remarks, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed said Centre-State relations needed more focused attention, particularly in a place like his state. "I want to make this state not only a show window of scenic beauty but also of peaceful coexistence," he said.

The venue resembles a fortress, and border security personnel were keeping a vigil in rented boats on the Dal Lake, a large section of which has been declared out of bounds for the shikarawalas.

Before the start of the meeting, the Mufti said he was disappointed with the strike called by the All Party Hurriyat Conference and other outfits. "It is meaningless."

Asked whether there was a possibility of the prime minister meeting Hurriyat leaders, he replied: "You should direct this question to the prime minister. I feel that time has come that one should not shy away from talking. Kashmir is a complex problem and will take time to sort out. We will have to cover a zigzag course to bring about any solution."

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Onkar Singh in Srinagar