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Hurriyat for direct talks with Prime Minister

Shujaat Bukhari

Not to accept mediation on holding talks

SRINAGAR: The moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference on Tuesday made it clear that it would hold direct talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and rejected any kind of mediation.

At an extraordinary meeting of the Hurriyat executive, the leaders discussed the details of a recent meeting between Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and the Centre's special emissary, Wajahat Habibullah. Sources close to the Hurriyat said that Mr. Habibullah had sought to fix convenient dates for a possible meeting between the Prime Minister and Hurriyat leaders.

The executive said that though the Hurriyat in principle was not against talks with New Delhi to resolve the Kashmir issue, it would not accept any mediation on holding talks.

"The Hurriyat wants to resume talks with the Centre but only if an invitation is extended from the Prime Minister's office," Hurriyat sources said and added that only after it (the invitation) was received would the Hurriyat again meet and discuss the issue. The Mirwaiz, according to the sources, has also conveyed the same to Mr. Habibullah, who was recently in Srinagar.

The Hurriyat executive also offered a berth to influential Shia leader and head of the Anjuman-e-Sharaee Shian Agha Syed Hassan.

He recently parted ways with the Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Geelani.

Team calls on Agha

A two-member delegation of the Hurriyat comprising Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Bilal Lone visited Mr. Agha Hassan's house in Budgam and conveyed the decision to him.

Agha Hassan told a news agency that he had accepted the offer in principle as "I am also for strengthening the pro freedom forces."

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