India, Pak discuss demilitarisation of Siachen

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 00:16

New Delhi: India and Pakistan on Monday
discussed demilitarisation of Siachen, a mountainous region
where borderline is not demarcated, in a "constructive
framework", picking up the threads of the issue after a gap of
three years.

The issue came up for discussion during the 12th round
of two-day Defence Secretary level talks between the two
sides.

"The talks were held in a constructive framework. Both
sides apprised each other of their perception about the
Siachen issue and also discussed the surrounding issues,"
Defence Ministry officials said.

Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar led the Indian
delegation at the talks with his Pakistani counterpart Lt
General (Retd) Syed Ather Ali.

The decision to resume the talks between the two
countries was taken last year during the meeting of Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf
Raza Gilani in Thimpu when they decided to take forward the
dialogue process.

While the Pakistani delegation has two civilian
officials and four military officers, the Indian side includes
Special Secretary RK Mathur, Director General of Military
Operations (DGMO) Lt General AM Verma and Surveyor General S
Subha Rao.

The Pakistani Defence Secretary met Defence Minister AK Antony in the afternoon for over 20 minutes.

The two sides may come up with a joint statement
tomorrow after the talks, the officials said.

Pakistan has been asking for demilitarisation of the
Siachen glacier and raised the issue of climate change there
due to presence of troops from both sides and its effects on
the environment.

Siachen, with an area of over 2500 sq km, the world`s
highest militarised zone, has been a long pending issue
between India and Pakistan over differences on the location of
the 110-km long Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) which
passes through the Soltoro Ridge and Siachen Glacier.

"The AGPL is not clearly marked beyond the grid
reference point of NJ-9842. The two countries have decided to
demilitarise the Siachen Glacier, but the matter is stuck as
there are apprehensions on both sides," officials said.

India wants Pakistan to authenticate the AGPL, both on
the maps and the ground, as it occupies most of the dominating
posts on the Saltoro Ridge, they said.

Pakistan, in turn, has been insisting on maintaining
the pre-1972 troop positions as agreed in the Simla Agreement.
During the talks, the two sides are also expected to
take up the issue of the existing ceasefire along the Line of
Control (LoC) and the AGPL, sources said.

The issue of existence of 42 terror camps may also
come up for discussion in the talks tomorrow. New Delhi has
held that despite several assurances from Pakistan that its
soil will not be allowed to be used for terror acts against
India, the terror infrastructure remained intact.

The defence secretary-level talks between the two
countries on Siachen dates back to 1985. The decision to hold
joint talks was taken by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
and Pakistan President General Zia-ul-Haq.

The Pakistani delegation arrived in India on Saturday
and yesterday visited Agra to see the Taj Mahal there.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 00:16

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