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India, Pakistan End Talks About Glacier Standoff


Peace talks between Pakistan and India ended Friday without resolving a two-decade-old military standoff over the Siachen Glacier in the Himalayan Mountains.

The meetings ended without any substantive agreement but both sides said they would maintain efforts to resolve the Siachen issue.

Pakistan's Defense Secretary, Tariq Wasim Ghazi, said the two-day discussion was cordial and held in a friendly atmosphere.

"We have exchanged ideas and tried to understand one another's positions and we will continue to carry forward," Mr. Ghazi said.

Both countries claim the isolated glacier, which the Indian army occupied in 1984.

Pakistani helicopter patrols Siachen Glacier
The glacier is more than 6,000 meters above sea level and more soldiers on either side have reportedly died from cold weather and altitude sickness than from combat.

A cease-fire agreement signed in 2003 stopped the fighting but troops remain in place and military tensions are still high.

Pakistan wants the glacier demilitarized but India wants its troops to stay where they are. However, India says it would consider freezing troop levels and avoiding aggressive maneuvers.

This week's talks are part of a wide-ranging peace dialogue to settle all the outstanding disputes dividing the decades-old rivals.

Both sides recently described the dialogue as irreversible raising hopes for a peaceful settlement of the territorial dispute over Kashmir, the cause of two of the three wars between India and Pakistan.

But Pakistani political commentator Ayaz Amir says the failure to reach a settlement over Siachen suggests neither side is ready to make any significant deals.

"Some people would be forced to draw the conclusion that there's more hype and more rhetoric to the latest phase of Indo-Pakistani relations than any real progress," Mr. Amir said.

The two sides are scheduled to resume talks Saturday on an unrelated border dispute.

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