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Siachen talks

india Updated: Nov 02, 2006 16:20 IST
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It is evident from Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri's statement on Siachen that hectic back channel diplomacy is on between New Delhi and Islamabad.

With India-Pakistan secretary level talks just round the corner, Kasuri sprang a surprise recently by saying that the two countries are close to an agreement on the demilitarisation of Siachen.

While the Pakistan Foreign Office is optimistic that the issue of Kashmir and Siachen will be resolved, the media adopts a cautious stance.

Let us hope that Mr Kasuri is not being over-optimistic when he says that Pakistan and India are "very close" to a deal on Siachen", Pakistan's leading daily Dawn says.

The two countries, which resumed their peace talks in February 2004 after years of tensions, have so far failed to budge an inch from their respective positions on the 71-kilometres long glacier, which Pakistan claims, was occupied by India in 1984 in violation of the Karachi agreement of 1948.

India is apparently reluctant to vacate some of the strategic positions it occupies at the glacier, while Pakistan insists that the troops by the two countries be withdrawn to pre-1984 positions.

It also dismissed statements that New Delhi and Islamabad are close to a deal on Siachen.

The Pak daily's distrust has more to do with India's new External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee than Kasuri.

"Mr Kasuri should have kept his optimism to himself...Mr Pranab Mukherjee is now India's foreign minister and has a reputation for being hawkish," the paper remarks.

However, another leading daily in Pakistan has an altogether different notion.

"Pranab Mukherjee's appointment as Indian Foreign Minister may finally resume the composite dialogue process between India and Pakistan," The Nation says in its editorial.

The Nation says that the deliberations between the two nations had slowed down after K Natwar Singh made an exit.

"With a Foreign Minister finally in place in New Delhi, Indian statements are expected to become more responsible, reigning in the more hawkish voices within the Indian ruling establishment," the paper says.

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