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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 August, 2004, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Rivals focus on Kashmir glacier
Troops on the Siachen glacier
Soldiers on the glacier fear the weather more than combat
The Indian and Pakistani defence secretaries have ended two days of talks in Delhi on how to demilitarise the world's highest battlefield.

The two sides' first high-level defence meeting in six years looked at ways of reducing tension on the Siachen glacier on the Line of Control in Kashmir.

The talks are part of a series of meetings aimed at improving relations.

A statement said officials discussed ways of disengaging and redeploying troops, and more talks were planned.

Discussions were led by Pakistan's defence secretary, Lt Gen Hamid Nawaz Khan, and his Indian counterpart, Ajai Vikram Singh.

Officials from the two sides also held parallel talks on Sir Creek - a disputed body of water between India's Gujarat state and Sindh province in Pakistan.

They agreed to continue negotiations on the issue.

Reducing tension

Conditions on the glacier are so extreme that cold weather claims more lives than military combat.

Both sides say they want to extend a ceasefire on the glacier which has been in place since November.

Talks between India and Pakistan delegations
No breakthrough is expected as yet
Siachen is 6,000 metres above sea level in the Himalayas and is disputed along with the rest of Kashmir.

India and Pakistan came close to war two years ago when intense fighting took place on the glacier with heavy casualties sustained by both sides.

But since then, a series of measures have been initiated by the two countries to reduce tension.

A BBC correspondent in Delhi says the exorbitant cost of maintaining troops on the glacier is pushing India and Pakistan to try to resolve the dispute once and for all.

But she says there is little hope of a breakthrough because India wants a guarantee that if its troops pull back, Pakistani troops will not rush in to fill the gap.

She says that Siachen, like Kashmir, has become a symbol of nationhood for both sides and will not be given up easily.




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