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India, Pakistan discuss Siachen

Last updated on: August 05, 2004 20:15 IST

After a gap of seven years, India and Pakistan on Thursday resumed defence secretary-level talks focussed on military de-escalation, including troop reduction on the Siachen glacier.

There was no official word on the talks, which will conclude on Friday, possibly with a joint statement.

Visiting Pakistani Defence Secretary Lieutenant General (retd) Hamid Nawaz Khan, who is leading a 12-member delegation, held an hour-long one-to-one meeting with his Indian counterpart Ajai Vikram Singh. Later, before both sides began the delegation-level talks.

Khan also called on National Security Adviser J N Dixit.

The Pakistani delegation later called on Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who will host a dinner in their honour.

"The talks started this morning and they are scheduled to continue tomorrow," external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said.

Khan said Islamabad had a "positive and open" mind on the Siachen issue.

While New Delhi has been stressing that any demilitarisation of the glacier should recognise the demarcations of the existing actual ground positions, Islamabad wants the pre-1972 position to be recognised.

When the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir was demarcated between the two countries under the 1972 Simla Agreement, it concluded at Point NJ9842, just ahead of Kargil.

India's contention is that the line runs south from this point to the glaciers, the word used in the Simla Agreement, while Pakistan says that the LoC runs north to the Karakoram Pass.

The discussion forms part of the ongoing composite dialogue process between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Islamabad is keen to revive the 1990 formula for talks.

The two countries in the nineties had almost reached a broad agreement to demilitarise the glacier, but New Delhi had at that time insisted that the Actual Ground Position Line be first demarcated.

Currently, Indian troops hold all vantage points dominating the main glacier as well as minor ones in the region.

As part of the ceasefire along the LoC, Indian and Pakistani troops are holding fire all along the glacier height.

The Siachen issue was discussed six times by both the countries before it was formally placed on the composite dialogue agenda along with the Kashmir and other issues.

The talks on the glacier will be followed by parleys on the other contentious issue of Sir Creek in the Rann of Kutch.

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