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PM rejects Hurriyat's call for separate meeting

The moderate separatist outfit had rejected the invitation to participate in the second roundtable conference.

india Updated: May 24, 2006 14:42 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rejected the moderate Hurriyat Conference's request for a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the second roundtable conference, beginning in Srinagar on Wednesday.

Talking to reporters at the technical airport in New Delhi, Prime Minister's media advisor Sanjaya Baru said, "There is no question of any meeting between Dr Singh and the Hurriyat leaders on the sidelines of the roundtable conference".

He said in their last meeting with the Prime Minister on May 3, the moderate Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was told to come up with a specific mechanism aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue.

"The Hurriyat leaders were asked to come up with a specific mechanism and ideas to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue and then meet Home Minister Shivraj Patil," Dr Baru added.

He said it was for the Hurriyat leaders now to take a lead and present the specific mechanism besides concrete proposals and ideas.

Dr Baru also dismissed the Hurriyat Conference's perception that the roundtable conference was "over-crowded", saying the Prime Minister wanted to seek views from all shades of opinion on finding a lasting and peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue.

The moderate Hurriyat Conference had rejected the invitation to participate in the second roundtable conference, saying it does not want to join "a crowd of political hypocrites and renegades".

However, the amalgam said its leaders would like to meet the Prime Minister separately during his two-day visit to Kashmir.

"We would like to seize the opportunity of the Prime Minister's visit to Kashmir. If Dr Singh agrees, we would like to meet and talk to him separately in Srinagar as well," the Mirwaiz had said at a news conference here on Monday.

This drew a strong reaction from National Conference (NC) Chief Omar Abdullah who threatened to boycott the roundtable conference, if the Prime Minister gave a separate audience to the Hurriyat leaders during his visit to Kashmir.

"The NC will boycott the second roundtable conference if the Prime Minister meets the Hurriyat leaders separately on the sidelines of the meet," Mr Abdullah had said.