Siachen talks on June 11-12

NEW DELHI, June 3:
India and Pakistan will discuss the Siachen issue, which has been hanging fire for over two decades, on June 11-12 in Islamabad with an aim of demilitarising the world’s highest battle-filed.
Defence Secretaries of the two sides will hold talks for two days there in an attempt to find a solution to the vexed problem, which is costing immensely to both countries in terms of monetary and human resources, officials said today.
The talks will be followed by a discussion on the Sir Creek issue on June 28. These talks were earlier supposed to precede the Siachen issue but the schedule was reversed reportedly at the behest of Pakistan.
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 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, former 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.
Defence Minister A K Antony had recently said in Parliament that no one should expect any “dramatic” results from the Defence Secretaries’ talks.
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)