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India unwilling to change stance on Siachen issue

June 09, 2012


India's defense minister A. K. Antony, left, prepares to speak about "Protecting Maritime Freedoms" at the Institute for Strategic Studies or IISS Shangri-la Security Summit on Saturday June 2, 2012 in Singapore. - File Photo by AP

NEW DELHI: Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony cautioned on Friday against expecting a breakthrough in the Siachen Glacier talks being held in Islamabad next week.

“Don’t expect dramatic announcement or decision there on an issue which is very very important for us, specially in the context of national security,” Mr Antony was quoted as saying on the sidelines of a public function here.

He did not spell out India’s proposed stand at the Monday-Tuesday talks between the two defence secretaries, but local reports said Mr Antony was apparently referring to Delhi’s demand for a proper authentication of current troop positions in Siachen by both the countries.

“Our stand is there and the defence secretary will explain the stand there,” Mr Antony said. He stressed that India has a `clear cut position’ on the Siachen issue.

“They (defence secretaries of both the sides) are going to have the discussion there. But we have already discussed this in detail. We have very clear cut position, since discussions are going to take place, I don’t want to reply it here,” he said.

Mr Antony’s comments appeared to dampen the hope offered by Pakistan’s High Commissioner Shahid Malik who was quoted as saying that both countries would benefit from demilitarisation in the world’s highest battlefield.

India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) met on Thursday and reports said it was decided to stay with the country’s known position on the authentication of troops. India sees it as the first step towards the ultimate objective of demilitarisation.

India wants Pakistan to agree to authenticate the troop positions and demarcate the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) on the map before taking steps to demilitarise the Siachen. However, Pakistan has refused to do so.

Armies of both the countries are deployed there since 1984 and are observing ceasefire since 2003.

In a farewell interview to the United News of India, Mr Malik said there was a consensus in his country to resolve all outstanding issues with India.

Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani talked of demilitarisation of Siachen when hevisited the glacier in the aftermath of burying alive of 139 Pakistani soldiers in an avalanche in April.

Mr Malik, who leaves India after five years of service here, said Kashmir and confidence-building measures among other issues will be on the agenda of foreign secretary level talks between the two countries to be held in New Delhi on June 29.

Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna is expected to visit Islamabad next month and a breakthrough on Siachen and Sir Creek could facilitate a visit to Islamabad by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.