Talks on Siachen have failed: Pranab
India and Pakistan have, however, agreed that they will stay engaged to end their two-decades-old conflict.india Updated: May 24, 2006 12:07 IST
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee indicated on Wednesday that the current round of talks between India and Pakistan on demilitarising Siachen Glacier had failed.
"There has been no breakthrough. We have agreed to continue talking," he told reporters on the sidelines of a national seminar on "Enhancing combat potential through indigenisation and modernisation".
India and Pakistan began two days of talks on Tuesday aimed at demilitarising Siachen, the world's highest battlefield at 22,000 feet.
The Indian side made it clear to their Pakistani counterparts that New Delhi could not "risk disengagement" unless there is acceptance of "the principle of mutual authentication", sources said.
Islamabad again expressed its unease with authentication of ground positions on the Siachen glacier, as it believes such an exercise would legitimise New Delhi's occupation of the strategic glacier in 1984.
Both sides have, however, agreed that they will stay engaged to end their over-two-decades-old conflict over the 76-km long glacier - the world's highest battlefield located at a height of 22,000 feet above sea level.
It was not just modalities of withdrawal, there has so far been no mutual acceptance of the process of disengagement itself, the sources said.
There are also differences over how both sides will effect their troop withdrawals, with both countries weighing what is strategically most advantageous to them.
New Delhi has emphasised that ease of access should be considered while determining positions to withdraw troops from, particularly in the Saltoro range area.
India also underlined the need for "well-laid out procedures for an effective and comprehensive" surveillance and monitoring mechanism that must accompany the disengagement process.
The Indian team comprised top military officials and diplomats and included, among others, Akhil Kumar Jain, additional secretary in the defence ministry; Lt Gen Madan Gopal, Director General (Military Operations); Shivshankar Menon, High Commissioner to Pakistan; and Dilip Sinha, Joint Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry.
Besides Ghazi, the Pakistani team included, among others, Aziz Ahmed Khan, Pakistan's High Commissioner to India; Afrasiab, Deputy High Commissioner; and Maj Gen (retd) Muhammad Ashraf Chaudhry, Additional Secretary in the Defence Ministry.