Indian defence secretary in Pakistan

June 11th, 2012 - 12:26 am ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, June 10 (IANS) Indian Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma arrived in Pakistan Sunday for talks on Siachen, the world’s highest and coldest battlefield, where the guns have been silent for almost a decade, an official said Sunday.

Sharma is heading an Indian delegation for the June 11-12 talks at the defence ministry in the adjacent garrison city of Rawalpindi.

The Pakistani side will be headed by Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi, Xinhua reported.

The Sichen Glacier dispute was once again highlighted after a massive avalanche struck a Pakistani camp in early April, killing nearly 140 people, most of them soldiers.

There had been calls in Pakistan and India to find out solution to the longstanding dispute where harsh weather kill more soldiers than fighting.

Both countries have held series of talks on the issue but have failed to reach any agreement.

The two countries last held a meeting on the issue in New Delhi in mid-2011 without making any progress.

Siachen, the world’s highest militarized zone, has been an outstanding issue between India and Pakistan as the border is not clearly demarcated in the glaciated region.

Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani who visited Siachen in the wake of the avalanche, called for a negotiated end to the confrontation and said the glacier should be demilitarized.

“This conflict should be resolved, but how it is resolved, the two countries have to talk about it,” he had told reporters in Siachen.

Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony said recently that it will 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 next round of talks in June.

He told the parliament that India had neither hardened nor softened the position on authentication.

India and Pakistan have deadlocked over differences on the location of the 110-km-long Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) which passes through the Soltoro 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.

The defence secretary-level talks between the two countries on Siachen dated back to 1985 after then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and then Pakistani president General Zia-ul-Haq made the decision.

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