India announces schedule for debates with Pakistan on long-standing disputes

India on Monday announced a schedule for peace talks with Pakistan aimed at resolving a range of issues between the nuclear-armed rivals, including withdrawing troops from the world's highest battlefield, the Siachen Glacier.

The talks are part of the third round of a sweeping peace process between the two countries. They will begin later in March and be spread over four months, concluding in July with discussions between foreign ministers, the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.

In January, the two sides held a round of discussions on Kashmir , a Himalayan land divided between them but claimed by both. The rivals have fought two wars over the region since independence from Britain during the bloody partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

In the third round of talks, the first meeting on promoting trade and economic ties will be held in Islamabad on March 28. This will be followed in April with discussions on a dam that India is building in Kashmir that Islamabad says will reduce water supplies to Pakistani farmers downstream, the ministry said.

Talks on the Siachen Glacier are scheduled to be held in New Delhi on May 23.

Thousands of troops have been deployed on the glacier since 1983, but more have died from the bitter conditions at 6,100 meters (20,000 feet) than in fighting.

Other issues to be discussed at a separate meeting include terrorism and drug trafficking.

On July 21, foreign ministers of the two sides will review progress made in the third round of talks, the ministry said.

India and Pakistan launched the peace process in 2004, two years after they nearly came to war along the cease-fire line that divides Kashmir . Their relations deteriorated after an attack on India 's Parliament in December 2003 which India blamed on Pakistan 's spy agency and Islamic militant groups operating from Pakistan . Pakistan denied the accusation.

Since then, the two countries have restored air, road and train services and initiated high-level talks on Kashmir and other issues, reports the AP.


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