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India, Pakistan in talks on disputed glacier

12 june 2012, 17:52
Indian Defence secretary, Shashikant Sharama and his Pakistani counterpart Nargis Saithi (L). ©AFP
Indian Defence secretary, Shashikant Sharama and his Pakistani counterpart Nargis Saithi (L). ©AFP
Indian and Pakistani defence officials held a fresh round of talks Monday seeking to end decades of dispute over the Siachen Glacier, dubbed the world's highest battlefield, AFP reports.

Pakistan's army chief of staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, called for a negotiated end to the stalemate and said the glacier should be demilitarised after an avalanche on April 7 killed 140 people at a Pakistani army camp.

Troops have faced off on the glacier since India captured it in 1984. Pakistan has since made unsuccessful attempts to wrest control of the hostile battleground, where sub-zero temperatures and high altitude have caused countless deaths.

The two days of talks between the most senior civil servants at India and Pakistan's defence ministries were being held at the Pakistani ministry in Rawalpindi.

"The two sides will discuss Siachen and other matters related to defence affairs," Sohail Aftab, a spokesman for the Pakistani defence ministry, told AFP.

It is the 13th round of talks between the nuclear-armed rivals on Siachen. All previous discussions have ended in stalemate.

The Indian delegation is being led by S.K. Sharma and the Pakistani side by Nargis Sethi. The Indian visitors were to meet Pakistan's Defence Minister Naveed Qamar later on Monday, but Pakistan provided no further details.

A joint statement will be issued on Tuesday, the spokesman said.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.

Last year they resumed their tentative peace process, which collapsed after Islamist gunmen from Pakistan killed 166 people in Mumbai in November 2008.

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