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Siachen talks: No pact on troop pullback

By Munir Ahmad in Islamabad
Last updated on: May 27, 2005 19:27 IST
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Defense officials from Pakistan and India on Friday concluded two days of talks without reaching any agreement on a pullback of troops from Siachen, the world's highest battlefield, officials said.

However, the two sides "agreed to continue talks in future," said a Pakistani official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Indian Defense Secretary Ajai Vikram Singh told reporters that the talks were held in a "cordial and positive atmosphere." His Pakistani counterpart, Tariq Waseem Ghazi, said there had been "forward movement" and the talks "helped us understand each other's position in a much better way."

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry was to issue a statement later on Friday.

The talks, which began on Thursday in Rawalpindi, came amid hopes the two sides could at least narrow their differences if not reach agreement on a pullback of thousands of soldiers deployed on the glacier for the past 21 years.

Both countries claim the glacier, and hundreds of soldiers have died on the frontline, deployed as high as 6,700 meters (22,000 feet). Far more have perished from the weather and altitude sickness than hostile fire.

The guns fell silent in November 2003 when the two countries agreed to a cease-fire across the Line of Control in Kashmir.

Pakistan and India have held several rounds of talks on the glacier in the past but have failed to reach any agreement.

When the Line of Control that divides Kashmir was set by the two countries after a 1971 war it only reached a point on the map called NJ 9842 and didn't extend to the northern glacier because it was considered uninhabitable.

India says the border should run northward in a straight line up to the Chinese border, while Pakistan says it should go to the northeast following the angle of the Line of Control.

Earlier report:
9th round of Siachen talks begin

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Munir Ahmad in Islamabad
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