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PM to offer Kashmir Plan to Musharraf

By Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
Last updated on: April 15, 2005 00:25 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to offer Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf a long-term plan for a solution to the Kashmir problem during the latter's visit to India on April 16.

A source in the Prime Minister's Office, however, refused to divulge any details.

When asked to confirm the matter, media advisor to the Prime Minister, Dr Sanjaya  Baru, also refused to comment.

Instead he said, "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wants to do business with President Musharraf. We don't want unnecessary hype. We want this meeting to be meaningful and substantial."

According to the source, track II diplomacy is in full swing. Former ambassador Satish Lamba and Pakistani pointsman Tariq Aziz have been exchanging notes and personally discussing important issues.

It is believed that Dr Singh and President Musharraf's first meeting on April 16 will set the tone for the visit and also the final outcome.

"We want dialogue on all issues. Pakistan can take up any issue. Peace is the only issue on our agenda. We want to end terrorism," he said on Thursday.

It is likely that reduction of troops in Siachen, the contentious issue of Baglihar dam and trade-related issues will be discussed by the two leaders.

Dr Singh had met President Musharraf in New York at the United Nations last October. They had an hour-long meeting.

After the meeting Dr Singh had famously said: "I can do business with him."

President Musharraf has displayed the comment prominently on his website.

A senior PMO officer said, "The PM can do business with him but then he can't do drama." He added that if Musharraf is coming only for business, then the PM promises a substantial dialogue with him.

While commenting on Hurriyat's planned meeting with President Musharraf Dr Baru said, "Hurriyat has to grow up. They are important leaders; but it is not that only Hurriyat represents Kashmir. Who can disagree that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayyed and Mehbooba Mufti are not popular in the Valley?"

President Musharraf will be staying in Taj Man Singh hotel in New Delhi.

In a change of itinerary, Musharraf head directly for Jaipur and from there to the Ajmer Sharif dargah before going to New Delhi.

Before meeting Dr Singh for talks on Saturday evening he will visit Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

After the talks, the prime minister has planned a dinner in honour of President Musharraf.

The next day, both leaders will meet the Indian and Pakistani cricketers before the match.

On Sunday, President Musharraf will also meet Hurriyat leaders, Opposition leader Advani and Vajpayee.

President A P J Kalam  has organised dinner for his Pakistani counterpart on Sunday.

On Sunday, between lunch and dinner, Dr Singh and President Musharraf are likely to meet once more. The agenda will be fixed during the meeting on Saturday.

The second meeting on Sunday is not confirmed. But both sides have kept a few hours available in case the need arises for a second meeting.

Dr Singh and President Musharraf will meet four times as per the schedule.

President Musharraf will leave India on Monday morning.

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi