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Tuesday, 7 December, 1999, 19:05 GMT
Kashmir separatist group wants talks
kashmir protest Dermonstrators in Srinagar chant anti-Indian slogans


By Altaf Hussain in Srinagar

A senior leader of one of the major separatist alliances in Indian-administered Kashmir has said his group is willing to hold bilateral talks with India.

Kashmir Conflict
Speaking to journalists in Srinagar, Mr Farooq reiterated the All Party Hurriyat Conference's (APHC) well-known stand that the Kashmir question can be resolved either through a plebiscite (under UN resolutions) or through talks amongst all the three concerned parties: India, Pakistan and representatives of Kashmiri people.

He said the APHC had for a long time felt that no two parties could resolve the dispute without the inclusion of the third.

However, he said the they were open to bilateral talks with India, as long as the Indian Government acknowledged that all three parties would ultimately be involved in the dialogue.

Observers say this marks a shift in the separatist alliance's stand, which has until now opposed all bilateral talks as futile endeavours.

But Mr Farooq says it is only an alteration in technique, and not a deviation from the alliance's original stand.

Eight dead

Meanwhile, police say eight militants have been killed in clashes with Indian security forces across the Kashmir Valley in the past 24 hours.

Indian soldier More clashes with militant groups have been reported
The longest clash took place at Ganderbal, near Srinagar, during which two separatist militants from the al-Bader mujahideen group were killed.

A spokesman for al-Bader says four Indian soldiers were also killed, but this has not been confirmed by the authorities.

In a separate development, a spokesman for the separatist group, Jamat-e-Islami Kashmir, expressed concern over the alleged torture of a party leader, Hisamuddin Ahmed.

The spokesman said Mr Ahmed was detained by troops on Sunday and was tortured in a make-shift interrogation centre where he was held for the day.

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See also:
17 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Kashmir 'war still on'
17 Nov 99 |  South Asia
India goes arms shopping
10 Nov 99 |  South Asia
India and Pakistan clash in Kashmir
10 Jul 99 |  South Asia
Kashmir militant alliance rules out withdrawal
27 Oct 99 |  South Asia
US urges Pakistani pullback in Kashmir

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