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Indian army against troop withdrawal from Siachen

Ahead of talks, India's army has warned against pulling out troops from Kashmir's disputed Siachen glacier.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2006 13:52 IST

India's army has warned against pulling out troops from Kashmir's disputed Siachen glacier, ahead of talks between New Delhi and Islamabad which are expected to focus on the issue.

Top diplomats of the rival neighbours will meet in New Delhi Tuesday for two-day talks suspended after India blamed Pakistan for July train bombings in its financial capital Mumbai, in which more than 180 people were killed.

Ahead of the talks, the Indian army repeated its stance that Siachen, the world's highest battlefield, was stragetically important for the country and troops should remain in place.

"If we vacate the posts on Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge and Pakistanis and Chinese come to control the valley, it can threaten eastern Ladakh," Brigadier Om Prakash of the Siachen Briage told the Times of India, referring to the region bordering China.

Demilitarisation of the 6,300-metre (20,700-foot) glacier—proposed this year by Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf—is expected to figure in talks between India's Shivshankar Menon and Pakistan's Riaz Mohammad Khan.

Indian wants the troop positions marked out in case Pakistan moves its soldiers in after a withdrawal deal. Islamabad fears that writing down the positions would be tacit acceptance of India's claims to Siachen.

India and Pakistan each hold part of Kashmir but claim it in full.

In 1999 Pakistan-backed invaders occupied the icy heights of Kargil, triggering fighting that cost hundreds of lives and brought the neighbours close to war. But there has been no fighting since late 2003 when a ceasefire took effect along the de facto border dividing the Himalayan region.

India accuses Pakistan of stoking the insurgency, a charge Pakistan denies.

The neighbours have fought three wars since their 1947 independence from Britain, two of them over Kashmir.

First Published: Nov 12, 2006 13:52 IST