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Azad pins hopes on Pranab's Pak visit

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
January 09, 2007 00:43 IST
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Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad announced on Monday that five working groups on Kashmir -- as recommended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh -- will be ready in the next two months.

In an informal chat with the press after the Governor's address to the joint session of state legislature in Jammu, Azad hoped that the 'talks between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Pakistani counterpart will carry forward the dialogue process between the two countries to settle all issues amicably'.

"Many proposals have been floated by the neighbouring country and dialogue is the only means to discuss all aspects and work out strategies," he said.

Azad said that five years earlier, the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee initiated the dialogue process with Pakistan and the Congress, then in the opposition, extended its full support to the National Democratic Alliance government.

"To work against one's own initiative is not befitting. We should think above all political considerations and work for peace and development. Bigger parties should have bigger hearts and minds and think about the interests of the country," he maintained.

Referring to his talks with opposition National Conference leaders, Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, Azad said that his deliberations with them were peace process-centric in the backdrop of Mukherjee's visit to Pakistan.

The chief minister said he recently had meetings with the prime minister, union home minister and foreign minister and discussed matters pertaining to the dialogue and peace processes.

"We discuss these issues with our coalition partners in legislature meetings and other forums. However, to take the opposition into confidence with regard to matters of national interest, we have to have interactions and meetings with them," he maintained.

He said he found NC leaders very positive with regard to creating lasting peace in the state.

Azad said, that during his meeting with the foreign minister, he stressed the need for taking up the issue of opening more trans-border and trans-LoC routes to further strengthen confidence building measures.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar