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No great breakthrough expected as India, Pak talk Siachen

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No great breakthrough expected as India, Pak talk Siachen
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Islamabad: Defence Secretaries of India and Pakistan will begin two-day talks on the Siachen issue in today. The talks come at the backdrop of demands in Pakistan that the world's highest battlefield be demilitarised as soon as possible.

Indian Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma arrived in Pakistan yesterday for crucial talks on the military standoff on the Siachen glacier. The Pakistani side will be led by Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi, a close confidant of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The talks, part of the resumed dialogue process between India and Pakistan, will begin at the Defence Ministry in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani and President Asif Ali Zaradari have spoken about the need to resolve the issue. But Despite General Kayani's call for the resolution of issues like Siachen after an avalanche buried 139 people at a high-altitude army camp on April 7, analysts believe the two sides are unlikely to make progress in the talks on ending the standoff that began in 1984.

Ahead of the talks, Defence Minister AK Antony cautioned against expecting any breakthrough at the meeting saying, "Do not expect any dramatic announcement or decision on an issue which is very important for us, especially in the context of national security. You cannot expect a dramatic announcement from one discussion."

India has stuck to its known position that no troop withdrawal is possible without Pakistan authenticating current troop positions, delineating the boundary on the map and demarcating it on ground.

India's Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) also discussed the Siachen issue at a meeting on Thursday.

Stung by the occupation of strategic heights in the Kargil sector in 1999, India has insisted on the authentication and demarcation of current military positions along the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line on Siachen.

The move is aimed at thwarting the possible re-induction of troops by Pakistan after any possible demilitarisation of the glacier.

Indian and Pakistani troops have been engaged in a standoff on Siachen, described as the world's highest and coldest battlefield, since 1984.

The guns have largely been silent since late 2003, when the two countries put in place a ceasefire along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir, and more troops have died on the glacier due to the adverse weather than combat.

PTI

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