President A P J Abdul Kalam made a historic visit to the Siachen glacier on Friday, becoming the first President to visit the world's highest battle ground.
President Kalam, the supreme commander of the armed forces, spoke at length about the dangers of environmental degradation to the 72 km glacier in his address to the jawans.
Describing the glacier as one of the water arteries of the country, he commended the efforts of the soldiers in standing guard in such inhospitable conditions.
On his arrival at Thoise advanced landing ground, President Kalam and his entourage was given a warm welcome in near freezing temperatures by the army's top brass.
From Thoise, he flew in a helicopter to the base camp situated at a height of over 18,000 feet, where he addressed officers and jawans.
"For me it is the most important discussion that I am having with you," Kalam told the troops and added that though there were only a few of them at the base camp, he was sure that his words would reach the entire 102 Brigade
formation guarding the Siachen glacier.
Earlier bad weather delayed the President's flight. The VVIP Boeing 737 of the IAF's Communication Squadron carrying Kalam and his entourage was held back at the Palam Technical area as bad weather was reported over Thoise advanced landing ground.
The flight took off about 40 minutes late at 0800 IST.
Among those present to welcome the President at Thoise air base were Army Chief Gen N C Vij, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Hari Prasad and Corp Commander Lt Gen Arvind Sharma.