After 3-yr gap, India, Pak resume Siachen talks

Pakistan’s Defence Secretary Syed Athar Ali arrives at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, on Saturday.

NEW DELHI: After a gap of three years, defense secretaries of India and Pakistan today met here to discuss the long-pending Siachen issue.

Defense Secretary Pradeep Kumar is leading the Indian delegation at the two-day talks with his Pakistani counterpart Lt General (Retd) Syed Ather Ali.

India and Pakistan decided to resume the talks last year after Prime Ministers of both the countries met in Thimpu and decided to take forward the dialogue process.

While the Pakistani delegation has two civilian officials and four military officers, the Indian side includes Special Secretary R K Mathur, Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt General A M Verma and Surveyor General S Subha Rao, defense officials said.

After the talks, the Pakistani Defense Secretary will call on Defense Minister A K Antony this evening.

Siachen, the world’s highest militarized zone, has been a long pending issue between India and Pakistan over differences on the location of the 110-km long Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) which passes through the Soltoro Ridge and Siachen Glacier.

“The AGPL is not clearly marked beyond the grid reference point of NJ-9842. The two countries have decided to de-militarize the Siachen Glacier, but the matter is stuck as there are apprehensions on both sides,” officials said.

India wants Pakistan to authenticate the AGPL, both on the maps and the ground, as it occupies most of the dominating posts on the Saltoro Ridge, they said.

Pakistan, in turn, has been insisting on maintaining the pre-1972 troop positions as agreed in the Simla Agreement.

Retaliating to Pakistan Army’s advances in the glacier in 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot and deployed its troops in most of the dominating features in the area.

The defense secretary-level talks between the two countries on Siachen dates back to 1985.The decision to hold joint talks was taken by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Pakistan President General Zia-ul-Haq.

The Pakistani delegation arrived in India on Saturday and yesterday visited Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

–PTI

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