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India, Pak to find settlement over estuary row
Published on 21 May. 2011 11:51 PM IST
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Pakistan and India vowed on Saturday to find an “amicable settlement” to a border dispute over a river estuary, as the nuclear-armed rivals step up efforts to revive a peace process derailed by the 2008 Mumbai attack.
The old south Asian rivals conducted a survey of the Sir Creek estuary in 2007 before their fragile peace process broke down because of the Mumbai assault by Pakistani-based militants that killed 166 people.
The two sides agreed to resume the process in February and held trade talks last month on boosting economic ties.
Senior defence officials of the two countries met for two days in Rawalpindi, a garrison town adjoining the capital Islamabad, to discuss ways and means to resolve the Sir Creek row.
“Both sides exchanged non-papers (proposals) in order to take their discussions forward, with a view to finding an amicable settlement of the issue,” according to a joint statement issued on Saturday at the end of the talks.
“The talks were held in a friendly and cordial atmosphere,” the statement said, adding that the two sides would meet again.
The dispute over the 100-km (60-mile) estuary has hampered exploration for oil and gas and led to the detention of hundreds of fishermen from the two countries when they stray across the poorly demarcated border.
The Sir Creek issue is one of the more easily resolved issues between India and Pakistan, analysts say, and could lead to progress on more contentious disputes like the one on Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield in Kashmir, where thousands of troops are holed up in freezing temperatures that have killed more soldiers than fighting. But the broader dispute over Kashmir in the Himalayan region, divided between the two countries and claimed in full by both, is by far the most complicated issue at the heart of decades of hostility.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, and came dangerously close to a fourth in 1999 and 2002.

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