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Azad, Singh discuss Kashmir WG recommendations

New Delhi, January 23, 2008:

The chief minister of Indian administered Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad discussed the issue of violence-affected widows and orphans of the region with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here Wednesday.

Violence after the eruption of an anti-India insurgency in 1989 has left thousands widowed and orphaned in Indian administered Kashmir.

At the prime minister’s residence Singh and Azad discussed for about 100 minutes the recommendations of the Working Groups set up by the former on various Kashmir related issues.

Political analysts at New Delhi see the meeting as a major initiative since holding of PM's Round Table Conferences (RTCs) and constitution of Working Groups (WGs) on Indian administered Kashmir.

After the second RTC convened by the Indian PM in Srinagar, five WGs had been constituted in 2006 on economic development, strengthening relations across the ceasefire line which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, confidence building measures across segments of society on the two sides of Kashmir, ensuring good governance and strengthening relations between Indian administered Kashmir and New Delhi.

Out of the five WGs, four have submitted their reports to the Indian prime minister last year while the report of the fifth on New Delhi-State relations is awaited.

New Delhi had constituted a committee under Indian home secretary with representatives of both New Delhi and Indian administered Kashmir, to review the implementation of the recommendations made by the WGs.

Subsequently, several meetings were held between New Delhi and state governments.

On January 13, 2008, Azad held a meeting with top level officers in New Delhi.

The meeting was followed by a high level discussion with Indian Home Minister, Shivraj Patil last evening.

The Round Table Conference floated with the idea of bringing Kashmiri separatist politicians into discussions failed to woo them.

The separatist groups opposing Indian rule in Kashmir refused to share table with pro-India politicians from the region.

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