India 'ready to discuss' Kashmir

India's Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani has said his country is ready to discuss with Pakistan all bilateral issues, including the disputed region of Kashmir, but would take a tough stance on "cross-border terrorism".

    Advani made his comments in

    Chicago during a meeting Friday with representatives of the Indian American community.

    Advani, who met US President George W. Bush during his US trip, said the American leader told him he would urge Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue.

    Their meeting is due to be held on 24 June. Both Musharraf and Advani will be holding talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London this week.

    New Delhi accuses Islamabad of arming and funding groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir - a charge Pakistan denies.

    Musharraf said on Friday he was willing to meet Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

     

    But the president also struck a hardline position saying he did not trust India, that the people of Kashmir don't want to be with India and that trade talks were of no use unless the "core" issue of Kashmir was addressed.

    Advani in London

    Advani's visit to London is being seen as prime ministerial not only because he is expected to lead India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the next elections, but because he is recognised as the party's strongman.

    Despite the warm reception Advani is expected to receive from British officials, a sit-in being organised by Muslim groups in London will take place on Sunday.

    There have been calls for Advani's resignation in India for his alleged role in the 1992 demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya which led to communal violence across the country.

    A preliminary report this week by an archaelogical team examining Hindu revivalists' claims that the mosque is built on the ruins of an ancient Hindu temple said there was no evidence to support the contention.

    Five of the accused in the demolition case have reportedly named Advani as the instigator of the mosque's destruction.

    Advani and his BJP party have also been accused of sponsoring anti-Muslim violence in the Indian state of Gujarat last year in which m

    ore than 2,000 people, most of them Muslim, were killed.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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