New Delhi: India and Pakistan on Tuesday concluded their two-day talks here on the festering 27-year-old Siachen Glacier dispute with both sides disagreeing on almost all issues, including demilitarisation of the world`s highest battlefield.
The only forward movement in the 12th round of discussions between Indian Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and his Pakistani counterpart Lt. Gen. (retired) Syed Athar Ali, after a gap of nearly four years, was that the two sides decided to hold the 13th round of talks on Siachen "at a mutually convenient date" in Islamabad.
The two sides also issued a joint statement, the fourth since February this year, at the end of the defence secretary-level Siachen talks. Both countries` foreign secretaries, commerce secretaries and home secretaries have meet in the past three months.
The statement said both the sides "welcomed" the ongoing dialogue process. "The discussions were held in a frank and cordial atmosphere, contributing to an enhanced understanding of each other`s position on Siachen," it said.
Pakistan also presented a "non-paper" on Siachen. A non-paper, in government parlance, is an off-the-record, unofficial presentation of a stated policy.
The two sides also acknowledged that the ceasefire was "holding" since November 2003, and "presented their positions and suggestions" towards the resolution of Siachen, the statement added.
Apart from the delegation-level talks, the two defence secretaries met one-on-one, and the Pakistani delegation also called on Defence Minister AK Antony Monday.
The talks were part of the two nations` larger effort to resolve the outstanding issues between them. The two countries decided to resume their dialogue, which was put on hold after the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack, following meetings between their prime ministers in Bhutan`s capital Thimpu in April 2010.
The Siachen Glacier is under India`s control since April 1984 when its troops beat the Pakistani Army by a day to occupy the icy heights, ranging from 16,000 to 22,000 feet, along the Saltoro Ridge in Jammu and Kashmir.
Since the ceasefire between the two sides began in November 2003, Pakistan has wanted India to demilitarise the glacial heights, but New Delhi has asked Islamabad to first authenticate the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) before any talks can begin on withdrawing troops from the glacier.