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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 11:33 GMT
Kashmir separatists prepare for talks
Abbas Ansari
The moderate separatists say there are no pre-conditions for talks with Delhi
A moderate wing of the main Kashmiri separatist alliance has named a five-member team to hold talks with the Indian Government.

It will be headed by the chairman of the All Party Hurriyat Conference, Moulvi Abbas Ansari.

The talks are likely to be held in Delhi next week, ahead of a proposed dialogue between India and Pakistan.

The two nuclear rivals have recently agreed to begin talks on all issues that divide them, including Kashmir.

Besides Mr Ansari, the other members of the separatist team are Umar Farooq, Abdul Ghani Bhat, Bilal Lone and Fazal Haq Qureshi.

The Indian Government will be represented by the country's powerful Deputy Prime Minister, LK Advani.

Hurriyat spokesman, Abdul Ghani Bhat, said they were "optimistic with caution" after his organisation's meeting in the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, Srinagar.

"We seek to initiate a purposeful process," he said.

Indian and Pakistani leaders at Saarc summit
The Indian and Pakistani leaders have agreed to resume talks in February
Mr Bhat told the BBC that he and his colleagues were concerned over threats posed by militants who, he said, "were getting carried away by sentiments".

On Wednesday, a Kashmiri militant group warned the Hurriyat against entering a dialogue with Delhi, describing it as a "sell-out".

"Once right sense dawns on them, they will realise that dialogue is inevitable for resolving problems."

Earlier on Thursday, an explosion in Srinagar injured a policeman, reports said.

'No hurdles'

So far the agenda for the talks have been kept secret.

Hurriyat Chairman Moulvi Abbas Ansari told the BBC earlier this week that there were no pre-conditions for talks either from either side.

"We do not want to create any hurdles in the way of dialogue," Mr Ansari said.

But he promised that he would take the people of Kashmir into confidence before talking to the Indian government.

The moderate wing of the Hurriyat has been accused by other factions of the organisation of violating its constitution which says that it can only participate in a tripartite dialogue involving Pakistan.


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