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Indians start Siachen trek despite protests

September 27, 2007

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SRINAGAR, Sept 26: A trekking expedition has left for the heavily militarised Siachen glacier in disputed Kashmir, despite objections by Pakistan, said the Indian army on Wednesday.

“The first of its kind expedition left for Siachen glacier on Tuesday,” army spokesman Lt-Col Anil Mathur told AFP.

He said the 43-member team included civilians, men from the army, journalists and students from several military training schools.

He said it would take some 20 days for the trekkers to make the trip to the 6,300-metre (20,800-feet) high Siachen glacier.

Pakistan last week protested to India after the trek was announced as a first step to opening up Siachen to tourists, warning it could hurt the peace process.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said India’s deputy ambassador had been summoned to receive a “strong protest” over the trek plan as India’s occupation was illegal.

“The area remains a conflict zone and the reported move by India to open this for tourism could aggravate the situation with serious consequences that vitiate the atmosphere for the ongoing peace process,” she said.—AFP

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