India, Pakistan officials to discuss border dispute

Officials from India and Pakistan met Tuesday to discuss conducting a joint survey to demarcate their border in a marshland along the frontier separating the two countries, the ministry of external affairs said. The two countries had agreed to conduct the survey of the disputed boundary at Sir Creek, a strip of marshland along their frontier, during talks held in Islamabad in October.

The survey would form the basis of future negotiations between the two sides to resolve the nearly six-decade-old dispute over Sir Creek, which straddles Pakistan's Sind province and the Indian state of Gujarat. Sir Creek is one of eight contentious issues, including the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, that the two South Asian rivals are discussing as part of a peace dialogue which began in Jan. 2004.

The Indian delegation to the talks is being led by Brig. Girish Kumar, deputy surveyor general of India, while Maj. Gen. Jameel-ur-Rehman Afridi, Pakistan's Surveyor General, is leading the Pakistani side at the daylong talks in New Delhi, said Navtej Sarna, the external affairs ministry spokesman.

Details of the negotiations were not immediately available. Although Sir Creek is not considered strategically significant, the lack of a well-demarcated border is a thorny issue, with both sides accusing the other of trespassing and arresting fishermen who inadvertently cross into the each other's territorial waters.

The two countries have already held several rounds of talks to resolve the dispute over Sir Creek. Both countries hope the results of the survey can be presented at the next round of the peace dialogue scheduled for early January, reports the AP. I.L.

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