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'Siachen open to travellers for some time'

"The Siachen area has been open for quite some time," Defence Minister AK Antony said on Wednesday.

india Updated: Sep 19, 2007 18:54 IST

As many as 15 expeditions, including some foreign ones from the US, France and Australia, have already scaled peaks on the Siachen glacier and the area has been open to civilians for some time now, the government said on Wednesday.

"The Siachen area has been open for quite some time," Defence Minister AK Antony said on Wednesday. Since July, three teams from the US, France and Australia have ascended peaks straddling the 72-km glacier, he noted.

The group of trekkers cleared to go to Kumar Post "caught the eye" as this expedition received publicity though other teams had regularly gone to the area for some time now, Antony told reporters on the sidelines of a Coast Guard commanders' conference in New Delhi.

Despite Pakistan's opposition to the expedition to Kumar Post, it was cleared by the defence ministry on Tuesday.

According to figures maintained by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), expeditions and trekking teams had been going to the glacier even at the height of the confrontation with Pakistani troops.

Teams from US have been to the area twice, first in 2005 and then again in 2007. Expeditions from France, Italy and Britain have scaled peaks in the glacier between 2000 and 2007, the figures showed.