2-day talks on Siachen begin in Islamabad
Islamabad, June 11: Pakistan and India Monday began two-day talks to resolve the dispute over Siachen glacier, the world’s highest battlefield. Pakistan army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has sought demilitarization of the area following a massive avalanche that entombed nearly 140 soldiers.
Defence secretaries of the two countries will review several proposals to settle the dispute, officials said.
Indian Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma is leading an Indian delegation while Pakistani side is headed by Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi at the talks in the garrison city of Rawalpindi near Islamabad, reported Xinhua.
The two defence secretaries held a one-on-one meeting ahead of the delegation-level meeting, official sources said.
Besides defence officials, the directors general of military operations and foreign ministry representatives are also participating in the talks.
The Siachen glacier dispute was highlighted after a massive avalanche struck a Pakistan Army camp in early April.
There have been calls to find out solution to the long-standing dispute where harsh weather has killed more soldiers than actual fighting.
Both countries have held a series of talks on the issue but have failed to reach any agreement. They last held a meeting on the issue in the Indian capital of New Delhi in mid-2011 without making any progress.
Kayani, who visited Siachen in the wake of the avalanche, April 18 called for a negotiated end to the confrontation and said the glacier should be demilitarised.
“Peaceful coexistence between the two neighbours is very important so that everybody can concentrate on the well-being of the people,” he said.
“Both countries should sit together to resolve all the issues including Siachen,” Kayani added.
Pakistan, however, promptly did an about turn a day later when Islamabad insisted said there was no change in its stance on the disputed glacier.
In early May, Kayani said India has toughened its stance on Siachen.
The general said India was now demanding re-determination of positions. He, however, added it “takes two hands to clap”.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Moazzam Ahmad Khan said last week that Pakistan has made several proposals including redeployment of forces.
Indian Defence Minister AK Antony has said that New Delhi would insist on proper authentication by Pakistan of the troop positions in Siachen before any disengagement is undertaken and cautioned against expecting any “dramatic” result from the talks in Pakistan. He told the Indian parliament that India had neither hardened nor softened the position on authentication.
India and Pakistan are deadlocked over differences on the location of the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) which passes through the Saltoro Ridge and Siachen Glacier.
India wants Pakistan to authenticate the AGPL, both on the maps and on the ground, as it occupies most of the dominating posts on the Saltoro Ridge.
Pakistan, in turn, has been insisting on maintaining the pre-1972 troop positions as agreed in the Simla Agreement.
Ahead of the talks, Indian Defence Minister A K Antony cautioned against expecting any breakthrough at the meeting of the Defence Secretaries.
“Do not expect any dramatic announcement or decision on an issue which is very important for us, especially in the context of national security,” he told reporters in New Delhi last week. IANS/PTI
Lastupdate on : Mon, 11 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 11 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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