Omar Abdullah seeks talks with Kashmir separatist leaders (Lead)

January 4th, 2009 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Jan 4 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir chief minister-designate Omar Abdullah Sunday said he was “desirous” of talking to separatist leaders from the state.Omar Abdullah, accompanied by his wife Payal and father Farooq, arrived here to a warm reception Sunday afternoon, a day before the National Conference president is slated to be sworn in as the ninth chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

Hundreds of National Conference workers gathered at the Jammu airport to take the chief minister-designate to party headquarters Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan here.

Omar Abdullah vowed to work for the equal development of three regions - Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh - of the state, saying he had many challenges ahead as the new chief minister of the state.

“There are numerous challenges. Single largest challenge is to rise to the expectations that people have. I will have to cut across regional and party lines and also age lines to deliver,” the National Conference president told reporters.

He said the huge turnout in recently concluded assembly elections was a blow to the separatists and “they must have now realized that talks are the only way forward, and I am also desirous of having talks with them”.

The NC patron and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah said: “I have to work for consolidating the party, analysing why party faced debacle in some areas, build bridges with separatists and also build bridges with Pakistan.”

He said his party has been assured by highest level in government of India for “all possible support to run the government in Jammu and Kahsmir”.

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