NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday invited Kashmir”s main political separatist alliance for peace talks, aiming to resume a dialogue stalled for a year.
The talks are scheduled to be held next week, ahead of a meeting between Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in New York on September 14 to push forward a slow peace process between the nuclear rivals who both claim Kashmir.
"The prime minister has invited the Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, for talks on September 5 in New Delhi," said Singh”s spokesman, Sanjaya Baru.
Farooq, who heads the moderate faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella alliance of two dozen political separatist groups, said the panel had accepted Singh”s invitation.
"We have received an invitation and, in principle, have accepted the invitation," Farooq told Reuters in Indian Kashmir”s summer capital Srinagar.
The Hurriyat”s policy-making executive council will meet on Thursday to finalize its stand at the talks, he said.
Hurriyat had suspended talks with New Delhi in August 2004 after the government insisted the dialogue would have to be held within the bounds of the Indian constitution, which says Kashmir is an integral part of India.
More than 45,000 people have been killed in Indian Kashmir since Muslim militants launched a revolt against New Delhi”s rule in 1989. The disputed Himalayan region has triggered two of three wars between India and Pakistan.
The neighbors have made little progress over resolving differences over Kashmir although, trade, commercial, sporting and transport links have improved since ties began to warm in 2003.