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Nuclear rivals in Siachen talks

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    Nuclear rivals in Siachen talks

    India and Pakistan are holding talks to try to resolve a long-running military stand-off on the Siachen glacier - the world's highest battlefield.
    The Siachen glacier lies at more than 5,500m above sea level in the disputed region of Kashmir.

    More soldiers there have died from the extreme cold than from enemy fire.

    A ceasefire has been in place across Kashmir, including Siachen, since November 2003 and the nuclear rivals have engaged in a peace process.

    After the first of two days of talks senior Pakistani defence ministry officials would only say that the talks were cordial and friendly.

    Earlier defence ministry officials from both sides, expressed optimism that the talks, in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, would make progress.

    "We have been given directions by [our] respective political leadership to move ahead," Indian Defence Secretary Ajai Vikram Singh was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

    Pakistan wants both sides to pull back to the positions they held more than 20 years ago before India occupied most of the ice field.

    India is reported to be seeking a halt to force expansion and a ban on artillery fire.

    Kashmir solution

    Last week Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said that a solution to the long-running Kashmir dispute lay within the grasp of the leaders of both countries.

    "I personally feel it [Kashmir's solution] should be done within the tenures of [Indian] Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and myself," Gen Musharraf said in Islamabad.

    "Since I believe that this harmony exists between us two, I strongly believe - if we really are sincere about reaching a final peace - it would be more possible that it is reached between us two."

    Referring to the Line of Control separating the Indian and Pakistani-administered parts of Kashmir, Gen Musharraf said a lasting solution lay in rendering boundaries irrelevant.

    He said demilitarisation by Indian security forces - accused of atrocities against Kashmiris - should go hand in hand with an end to the atrocities of militants who have been fighting security forces since 1989.

    India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the territory but embarked on a peace process 18 months ago.

    The latest step last month was the start of the of the first bus service to cross the Line of Control that divides Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
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