Pakistan, India to hold another round of peace talks

Negotiations will include attempt to resolve Kashmir issue; also agree to expedite resolution of dispute over Siachen Glacier.

India-Pakistan fab 88 (photo credit: )
India-Pakistan fab 88
(photo credit: )
Pakistan and India agreed to hold another round of peace talks in March, which will include an attempt to resolve their main dispute over Kashmir. The announcement to hold the fourth round of talks on March 13-14 in Pakistan was made Saturday during the visit of Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Islamabad. The two sides also agreed to expedite the resolution of an old dispute over the icy wasteland of the Siachen Glacier - often called the world's highest battlefield - where the two countries have deployed thousands of troops since the 1980s, Mukherjee said at a joint press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri. Kasuri said the Siachen issue - the border dispute which has been the cause of frequent skirmishes before a ceasefire was signed three years ago - could be resolved quickly. "Given the political will, it can be resolved in days," he said, adding Pakistan had already given a detailed plan to New Delhi about resolving this issue. Siachen is at the northern tip of Kashmir, a Himalayan region claimed by both Pakistan and India. Pakistan has proposed that both sides withdraw troops from Siachen, but India insists that Pakistan first officially recognize current Indian troop positions on the glacier. The two foreign ministers said they also discussed the crisis over Kashmir. "We have never in the past 60 years had such a sustained discussions" over Kashmir "as we have this time, and it is no secret that it is being discussed at different levels," Kasuri said. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan. More than a dozen militant groups have been fighting in the Indian side since 1989, seeking independence for Muslim majority Kashmir or its merger with neighboring Pakistan. Mukherjee said Indian and Pakistani experts for the first time will meet in March to discuss how to combat terrorism. Relations between the two rivals have improved in the past two years, following their leaders' launch of a peace process in 2004. But no significant progress has been made over Kashmir.