PM's doors open to separatists for talks: Soz | india | Hindustan Times
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PM's doors open to separatists for talks: Soz

india Updated: Jan 14, 2007 21:39 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has kept his doors open for talks with separatist leaders from Jammu and Kashmir.

"The prime minister is very keen to take the peace process to its logical end and has kept his doors open for talks with leaders of mainstream parties as well as separatists," Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz told reporters on Sunday.

Asked how soon the Kashmir issue would be resolved, he said it was "a long-drawn process", but remained non-committal regarding the prime minister's response to Hurriyat moderate leaders wanting to meet him ahead of their scheduled visit to Pakistan next week.

"I have no knowledge. The PMO is the right quarter to answer such a query," Soz said.

He said the Indo-Pak peace process was moving in the right direction and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's current visit to Pakistan was part of the dialogue process. "I strongly hope the visit is successful."

The water resources minister said despite wars between India and Pakistan, the Indus water treaty "was not affected and it will continue".

He said the Centre had chosen 31 water-scarcity districts Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra, where farmers have committed suicide owing to crop failure, for special projects to provide improved irrigation facilities.

Soz said he has declared 2007 as "Water Year" and chalked out a 20-point plan for improving irrigation facilities and providing quality water throughout the country, but did not elaborate.