ISLAMABAD, May 12, Reuter: Pakistan and India will resume talks on normalizing Relations next week after a two year gap and only days after the Start of a Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan,

Pakistani Minister of State for Defence Rana Naeem Mahmud told reporters on Thursday Indian Defence Secretary S.K. Bhatnagar would have two days of talks on May 19 and 20 with his opposite number Ijlal Haidar Zaidi.

An Indian Embassy official said the talks would focus on the Siachin glacier, a disputed area in the Karakoram mountains just south of the Chinese border and in the north of Kashmir.

Since 1984 troops from both sides have played a dangerous game of cat and mouse along the 6,000 meter high ridges of the glacier, Mahmud said clashes there were routine.

Western diplomatic sources said the talks were significant, reopening just before Moscow, an old friend of New Delhi, starts to withdraw from May 15 under a four nation accord, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States and the Soviet Union.

Although remote, the disputed Siachin glacier is one of the strategic points in a region where the borders of the Soviet Union, China, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan converge.

Historically, the area has always been a meeting place of cultures and commands one of the main east west routes along the Karakoram Highway, now running from Pakistan into China.

The long finger of Afghanistan’s Wakhan corridor stretches out to the northwest toward this region.

Moscow has agreed to evacuate the whole of Afghanistan but political analysts still speculate that it might want to keep the strategic Wakhan.

This could be the third round of normalisation talks. The first and second were held in January and June, 1985.

In early 1987, both sides started a troop buildup along their southern borders but later agreed to stand down.

Since the partition of British in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 20, 1988