Indo-Pak talks on Sir Creek underway

Updated on May 17, 2007 03:41 PM IST
India and Pakistan begin talks to resolve the dispute over Sir Creek whose determination would enable both countries to finalise maritime boundaries.
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PTI | ByK J M Varma, Islamabad

India and Pakistan on Thursday began talks in nearby Rawalpindi to resolve the dispute over Sir Creek, a marshy estuary off the Gujarat coast, whose determination would enable both countries to finalise maritime boundaries.

An Indian delegation headed by Surveyor General Maj Gen M Gopal Rao was in talks with the Additional Defence Secretary Rear Admiral Tanveer Faiz on the first day of the two-day discussions.

The talks were being held under the auspices of the fourth round of composite dialogue process.

Officials said during this round of talks the two sides will exchange maps depicting the borders of the maritime boundary. The maps would show the boundaries from each other's perspective.

During the talks both sides would try to iron out differences and look for convergence.

Ahead of the talks, Indian officials said there was a "positive streak to Sir Creek talks because it is doable".

The Indian delegation for Friday's talks included Chief Naval Hydrographer Rear Admiral B R Rao.

The joint survey of Sir Creek, a 65 mile long marshy strip, has been conducted on land as well off the coast to verify the outermost points of coastlines in the disputed area on the principle of equidistant method.

This was the second survey of the strip. The first survey conducted last year covered the horizontal section of the creek.

India says the boundary should be in the middle of the estuary, while Pakistan wants the border form the south-east bank. The joint survey verified the outermost points and prepare maps based on which a solution could be hammered out.

Officials on both sides believe a positive outcome on Sir Creek, which was also the part of the fourth round composite dialogue process that would enable Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to finalise his much awaited visit to Pakistan.

The determination of the coastline was essential for both countries to notify the martime economic zone to the UN Convention on Law of the Sea to which both Pakistan and India are signatories.

The convention requires that all maritime boundary disputes should be resolved by 2009 failing which UN may declare them as international waters.

Sir Creek is one of the issues being discussed under the composite dialogue process between the two countries which has completed three rounds. The two countries were poised to commence the fourth round from March this year.

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