China not taking sides on Kashmir

08:05, November 23, 2009      

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Chinese experts say China isn't interfering in the dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan, despite a separatist leader of the India-controlled part of the region applying for a visa to visit China.

And the experts stress that China criticism of India for extending an invitation to the Dalai Lama has nothing to do with the border dispute.

"I believe China is not a party to the Kashmir conflict, but it has a stake as far as peace in the region is concerned," Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the moderate faction of the Kashmiri separatist Hurriyat Conference, said in astatement late Friday, according to AFP.

"China has a direct link with Kashmir, as certain parts of Kashmir, including Aksai Chin, are under its control," he said, adding that he will visit China this Saturday on an invitation from a China-based non-governmental organization.

Farooq, who is chief priest at Kashmir's main mosque, also welcomed a joint statement earlier in the week by Chinese President Hu Jintao and US President Barak Obama, who voiced support for better India-Pakistan relations.

Farooq's secretary, Shahidul Islam, was quoted by Rediff News as saying that the leader would be applying for the visa after the Eid festival, and that "he will be highlighting the Kashmir issue during his visit to China, which is now an important player in the region."

The statement on China's role in the Kashmir dispute was the first by separatist leaders since a revolt against New Delhi broke out in 1989, and Farooq will be the first among them to visit China if his visa application is approved.

A day after his remarks, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, a senior leader of the People's Democratic Party, the main opposition, said China should not be introduced as another stakeholder in Kashmir, but it should be asked to return the territory under its control.

"We should not over-estimate China's role in Kashmir. It has no stake in Kashmir," Beigh told Rising Kashmir, a local newspaper.

Source:Global Times

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