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Meeting with Musharraf first: Hurriyat faction

Shujaat Bukhari

"Kashmiris must be involved in talks"

SRINAGAR: The Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has said that it is ready to meet the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, but there is no possibility of meeting him before April 17. A four-member delegation of the alliance is scheduled to meet the visiting Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, on April 16.

After an emergency meeting of the executive council of the Conference, the Mirwaiz told The Hindu that the Centre had conveyed that "we could meet Dr. Singh on April 14 or 15 but that is not possible as we are not going to be in New Delhi before April 16. We are open to meet him at a later date."

The Mirwaiz, who chaired the emergency meeting, announced that a four- member delegation comprising him, Abdul Gani Bhat, Moulvi Abbas Ansari and Bilal Gani Lone would meet Gen. Musharraf on Saturday. "We will put forth our stand on the Kashmir issue to the Pakistan President."

The chairman of the other faction of the Hurriyat, Syed Ali Geelani, and the Democratic Freedom Party chief, Shabir Shah, will also meet Gen. Musharraf.

The Mirwaiz also called for uniting the two factions and decided to constitute a team to approach the faction led by Mr. Geelani.

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