Pakistan calls off Sir Creek talks with India

May 10th, 2012 - 9:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) Pakistan has called off a meeting with India to discuss their Sir Creek maritime boundary dispute, an official said here Thursday. Pakistan seems keen to first assess India’s position on the Siachen glacier, the world’s coldest and highest battlefield.

Pakistan had announced that it was to discuss the Sir Creek dispute with India on May 14, but at the last minute, informed India that its representatives won’t be able to visit New Delhi for the talks, officials said.

No fresh dates for the talks have been finalised yet, though it could happen sometime in June.

The Sir Creek talks were to be led by India’s surveyor general and a Pakistani defence ministry official.

According to sources, Pakistan seems keen on first having the defence secretaries level talks first to assess the Indian position on Siachen Glacier dispute first before it wants to reveal its own cards vis-a-vis Sir Creek, which both sides feel is easily doable.

The defence talks are likely on June 11, as announced by Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony in parliament earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the two nation’s home/interior secretaries are scheduled to meet on May 24 and 25 in Islamabad, when issues relating to terror are likely to be discussed.

This round of talks between the two nations is an effort to build upon the discussion Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in April during a personal visit to Ajmer and New Delhi.

During that meeting, it was felt that the two sides need to reinforce positive momentum in trade ties by focusing their diplomatic energy on making tangible progress on less contentious issues like Sir Creek and Siachen, which could form the basis for Manmohan Singh’s visit to Pakistan.

Although the Pakistani side has been insisting on a Manmohan Singh visit before the year ends, India maintains that the timing will depend on forward movement on Islamabad taking action to bring 26/11 perpetrators to justice and against 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

Ahead of Manmohan Singh’s visit to Pakistan, the foreign ministers of the two nations will meet.

On the Sir Creek in the Rann of Kutch off India’s Gujarat state, Pakistan, on the basis of a joint survey, had reworked its eastern bank, resulting in its claim extending up to the mouth of the adjoining Pir Sanai creek. This stand is not acceptable to India.

With regard to Siachen, a 72-km glacier in the Karakoram ranges in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region, Pakistan had in the last round of meeting insisted the India also include China in the talks, as it is too close to Siachen and consequently a part to the dispute.

This has been rejected by India, which is also not agreeable to Pakistan’s suggestion that the two nations withdraw their troops from the inhospitable heights.

India has been insisting that Pakistan delineate the line of control in Siachen before the troops withdrawal is discussed.

On Siachen, Antony had told parliament that India’s position has not changed in the last one year.

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