CCS clears agenda for Siachen talks

NEW DELHI, June 7: India is expected to stick to its stand on authentication of troop positions at Siachen at the upcoming talks with Pakistan.
The issue was today discussed by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which cleared the stand to be adopted by India in this regard, sources said.
Defence Secretaries of the two countries will meet in Islamabad on June 11 and 12 in a bid to find a solution to the vexed issue which has been hanging fire for over two decades.
Maintenance of troops in the glaciated mountainous region ranging in the altitude of above 15,000 ft is costing immensely to both countries in terms of monetary and human resources.
Commenting on the upcoming talks, Defence Minister A K Antony had recently said in Parliament that no one should expect any “dramatic” results from the Defence Secretaries’ talks.
India and Pakistan have held several rounds of talks to resolve the Siachen issue.
The two countries were close to an agreement a few years back on demilitarising the region but it failed to fructify as Pakistan refused to authenticate the current military positions of the two sides despite India pressing for it.
During a visit to Siachen in 2005, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had said that the two countries should work to convert the highest battlefield into a mountain of peace.
Recently Pakistan army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had contended that India had hardened its position on the Siachen issue as compared to the 1989 stance it had adopted, saying that it “takes two hands to clap”.
Reacting on Kayani’s suggestion, the then Army Chief Gen V K Singh had rejected Pakistani counterpart’s proposal to demilitarise Siachen, dubbing it as a “gimmick”.
The armies of the two countries have lost more soldiers to hostile weather than in actual combat since April 1984 when Indian Army occupied the icy heights for the nation’s strategic defence.
The Siachen troop withdrawal issue gained prominence in Pakistan following a massive avalanche burying a Pakistan army camp there on April 7, resulting in the death of 129 soldiers and 11 civilians.
Just after the incident, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari advocated troop withdrawal from Siachen during his informal meeting with Prime Minister Singh in April. (PTI)


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