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Govt ready for unconditional dialogue: PM

Wednesday 17 November 2004

SRINAGAR: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday declared his Government was ready for an unconditional dialogue with anyone or everyone who abjures violence and said if infiltration and violence remain under control it would make it easier for him to seek further reduction of troops.

"Our Government is committed to an unconditional dialogue with anyone and everyone in the state who abjures violence. This dialogue should be and will be carried forward," Singh, on his first visit to Kashmir after assuming office, said.

He was addressing a convocation of Shere Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences here.

"I have already issued instructions to reduce the number of troops deployed in the state. If conditions improve and if the incidence of infiltration and violence remain under control it will make it easier for me to seek a further reduction of troops," he said.

Singh said his Government wanted Kashmir to once again become a "symbol of hope, peace, prosperity and cultural pluralism".

It was committed to ensuring peace with dignity and self respect, he said.

Emphasising that New Delhi wanted purposeful dialogue with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues, he said the only condition was that Pakistani territory should not be used for terrorist activities against India.

"Our government is committed to a purposeful dialogue with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues. The only condition is that, as agreed to by Pakistan, territories under its control should not be used to promote cross-border terrorism directed against us," the Prime Minister said.

"We are working with Pakistan to see an end to violence in J and K," he said.

On Government’s willingness to talk with militants if they shunned violence, the Prime Minister said the task of reconstructing Kashmir cannot wait until these dialogues arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.

"We cannot afford this luxury. The challenge is to begin peace building in Kashmir now," he said adding there may be forces that do not share "our vision" and actively seek to undermine it.

"I want the journey to begin here and now in Kashmir," he said.

Observing that the Kashmiri people have gone through a traumatic experience over the last decade and half, the Prime Minister said he shared their grief and understood how difficult if often can be to believe that a better future lies ahead.

"But I have a dream and a firm belief that working together, we can build a new Kashmir which can become once again a symbol of peace, prosperity and cultural pluralism", Singh said.

He said he had come to Kashmir not with a package but with a plan to reactivate the economy, reform the government, regenerate the entrepreneurship, revitalise the institutions of civil society and redefine the political paradigm and in the context the sub-continent.

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