Kashmir separatists: China has stake in S.Asia peace talks

Source: Reuters

By Sheikh Mushtaq SRINAGAR, India, Nov 21 (Reuters) – China has a stake in peace in South Asia, and Kashmir in particular, as part of the disputed Himalayan region is under Beijing’s control, Kashmir’s main separatist alliance said. Indian Kashmir’s separatist leaders have mentioned China’s role for the first time in resolving the dispute in Kashmir and its control over a part of the Himalayan region, since a revolt against New Delhi broke out in 1989. India rules 45 percent of Kashmir and the bulk of its more than 11 million population. Pakistan has about 35 percent of the territory and China controls the rest. “It (China) has a direct link with Kashmir as certain parts of Kashmir, including Aksai Chin, are under its control,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, told thousands of Muslim worshippers late on Friday. “I believe that China is not a party to the Kashmir conflict but it has stakes as far as peace in the region is concerned.” Farooq, also the chief priest of Kashmir, said he is planning to visit China soon. “Hurriyat welcomes the approach adopted by China and America jointly in terms of addressing the issue of Kashmir in South Asia,” he said. He was referring to a joint statement issued by the United States and China after President Barack Obama met his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, which included a line of support for the improvement of India-Pakistan relations. New Delhi said in response it does not need any external help to improve ties with neighbour Pakistan. India and Pakistan, who claim the region in full, have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir where tens of thousands of people have died in two decades of violence. Ties between the two neighbours nosedived after last November’s Mumbai attacks, in which 166 people were killed and New Delhi blamed Pakistan-based militants. (Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Sugita Katyal)
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