06/11/2012, 00.00
INDIA - PAKISTAN
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Islamabad-New Delhi talks over Himalaya glacier

The Pakistani government wants to break the stalemate over an area claimed by both sides for more than 50 years. New Delhi is not eager for change and warns against high expectations. In April, an avalanche killed 139 Pakistani soldiers. Between 1984 and 2003, Siachen glacier's cold weather and avalanches have killed more soldiers than fighting.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Indian and Pakistani defence officials began a two-day round of talks Monday to discuss the stalemate over the Siachen Glacier and its possible demilitarisation. India holds the area but Pakistan claims it.

Held in Rawalpindi, the meeting was requested by the Pakistani side after an avalanche killed 139 people at a military camp on 7 April. Over the years, sub-zero temperatures and high altitude have killed more soldiers than fighting.

The Indian side was led by Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, whilst the Pakistani side was led by his counterpart Nargis Sethi.

The meeting is part of renewed talks between the two countries, after they were interrupted by the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Many however see the talks as a mere formality with few chances of changing the status quo. In recent days, Sharma warned against hopes for "any dramatic announcement or decision on an issue which is very important for us".

The Siachen Glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram Range in the Himalaya Mountains, in the Ladakh region, northern Jammu and Kashmir.

The 70 kilometre-long glacier is the longest in the range, and the second in the world (poles excluded).

Following independence in 1947, Kashmir and its glaciers were the object of separate territorial claims.

Between 1984 and 2003, the area was involved in the 'Siachen conflict', which included a series of armed clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops along the glacier.

In 2003, Islamabad signed a ceasefire, leaving the area under Indian administration.

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