|Friday, 1 October 2004|
India and Pakistan to discuss troop pullback from Kashmir glacier
NEW DELHI, Thursday (AFP) Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan will hold talks on the withdrawal of troops from a glacier in disputed Kashmir known as the world's highest battlefield, a defence official said.
Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said this week that the issue of the Siachen glacier had come up during a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Friday in New York, where they met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. "Talks are the logical fallout of what the defence minister has said," a senior Indian defence ministry official told AFP.
"All options are going to be kept open and our military will be working on this vital issue," said the official, who declined to be named.
He said details on talks over the 6,300-metre (20,700-foot) high glacier were yet to be worked out.
"But hopefully we will be in a position to give the details very soon," he said.
Military analysts have long questioned the expense of stationing troops on the Siachen glacier, were more troops die from frostbite and altitude sickness than in fighting.
Pakistani Defence Secretary Hamid Nawaz Khan and his Indian counterpart Ajai Vikram Singh met last month in New Delhi for talks on a series of confidence-building measures, including the glacier troops issue.
Siachen is located in a remote area of Kashmir, the Himalayan territory held in part by India and Pakistan and claimed in full by both. The countries have fought three wars since their 1947 independence and came close to a fourth in 2002.
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