Pakistan has said that it has narrowed down differences over Sir Creek with India that has withheld the demarcation of maritime zones and an announcement to this effect could be made during a proposed visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the country next year.
"Islamabad and New Delhi have narrowed down their differences on Sir Creek almost to naught during the formal and informal talks in the last couple of months and a sketch of agreement has been drawn," local daily The Nation on Wednesday quoted a Pakistan official as saying.
Sir Creek could be the first issue the two countries settle after they began the Composite Dialogue process in 2004. It formed one of the main issues of the seven-point dialogue process, which included Kashmir and Siachen.
On Sir Creek, which separates the Gujarat and Sindh coasts, both sides conducted a joint survey last year to identify the boundary pillars installed in 1924 on the marshy strip, which is said to contain hydrocarbon deposits.
"The determination of maritime boundaries after the final settlement of dispute on Sir Creek would help define the limits of the exclusive economic zones (EEZs)," he said.
Ahead of Singh's proposed visit and the talks between Foreign Ministers of the two countries scheduled to take place on January 13 in Islamabad, the Surveyor Generals of both the countries and the concerned officials were scheduled to meet on December 22-23 here to finalise the second joint survey, which was expected to determine the contours of the agreement.
An agreement on Sir Creek would enable the two countries to demarcate their maritime boundaries well before the deadline set by UN to demarcate the national and international maritime zone.