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Siachen talks end on positive note
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6
The sensitive Defence Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan on Siachen, held after a gap of six years, concluded here on a positive note with the two sides agreeing to continue the ceasefire in force for the past 250 days.

Top sources in the government told The Tribune this evening that though the two countries were yet to break the ice on the Siachen issue, they took a crucial step forward in addressing each other’s concerns.

A brief Joint Statement issued today at the end of the Siachen talks in the framework of the Composite Dialogue said: “Frank and candid discussions were held in a cordial and constructive atmosphere aimed at taking the process forward. Both sides assessed positively the ceasefire that has been in effect since November 25, 2003.

“The military experts of the two sides also met to discuss modalities for disengagement and redeployment of troops, and agreed to have further discussions. The two Defence Secretaries agreed to continue their discussions with a view to resolving the Siachen issue in a peaceful manner.”

Sources said the Pakistani side asked for mutual disengagement of troops from Siachen — the world’s highest battle ground since 1984. The Pakistani viewpoint was that disengagement in a phased manner should lead to ultimate demilitarisation of the zone.

The Indian side was receptive to the suggestion and asked for authentication of the present position of the two countries’ troops on the glacier.

The Indians are understood to have told the Pakistanis that both sides knew exactly the location of each other’s troops on Siachen glacier and suggested that the present position should be authenticated by the two countries.

The Indian suggestion was that the two sides could go ahead with the eventual demilitarisation of the glacier and deal with the question of how the demilitarised zone could be monitored by either side only after authentication of the present position of troops on the glacier.

During the past two days, the two Defence Secretaries had discussions for four days, apart from working lunches. The Indian delegation was led by Defence Secretary Ajai Vikram Singh and the Pakistani delegation was led by Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Hamid Nawaz Khan. Gen Khan also called on Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and National Security Adviser J.N. Dixit.
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