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Pak won't occupy Siachen if India pulls out

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An agreement on demilitarisation of Siachen appeared "imminent" with Pakistan assuring India that its forces would not occupy the glacier if Indian troops pull out from there, a media report said on Friday.

Pakistan has given an assurance to India through diplomatic channels that it has no hidden motives and will not make any attempt to occupy the glacier, The Nation newspaper quoted Pakistani officials as saying.

"This assurance has been conveyed to India to give way to a breakthrough on the vital issue," it quoted an official as saying.

<b1>There was no immediate official confirmation of the report.

Islamabad has told New Delhi that any fears and concerns on its part that the snowy mountainous region, if vacated by the Indian troops, could be captured by the Pakistani troops are unfounded, the unnamed official said.

He said that despite an "imminent breakthrough" an announcement in this would be made only during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Pakistan which was yet to be fixed.

He said that India was likely to come forward to clinch an agreement on demilitarisation of Siachen Glacier.

India has been insisting on "iron clad" authentication of current troop positions of the two countries as it is wary of a repeat of 1999 Kargil experience when Pakistani troops captured the mountain heights vacated by India in winter.

However, Pakistan has refused to do so on the grounds that it would be tantamount to validating what it calls illegal Indian occupation of glacier in 1984.

Another official has been quoted as saying that the talks, both at formal and informal level, were being held on a satisfactory note.

"We expect positive outcome of these negotiations on demilitarization of Siachen Glacier in near future," he said.

Pakistan officials and media have been painting an optimistic picture during the past few months over an agreement on Siachen, specially after Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan presented some proposals to his Indian counterpart Shivshankar Menon during their meeting in New Delhi last year.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri said during the last month's visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Muherjee that the Pakistan proposals meet the concerns of both the countries.

"If India's concerns are where the troops are, means and ways can be find," he said.

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