Indian, Pakistani Defense Secretaries Open Talks on Siachen Glacier

Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan have opened a new round of talks over the Siachen glacier in Kashmir, where thousands of troops are stationed on what is considered the world's highest battlefield.

Pakistan's defense secretary, Tariq Waseem Ghazi, and his Indian counterpart, Shekhar Dutt, opened the two-day talks Tuesday in New Delhi. They are heading delegations of bureaucrats and military officers.

Pakistan has proposed that both sides withdraw troops from the glacier at the northern tip of Kashmir, the Himalayan region claimed by both countries.

But, India says the present troop positions should first be marked on a map and on the ground as evidence in case the area is reoccupied after a deal. Pakistan opposes the marking, saying it would legitimize Indian occupation of the strategic glacier in 1984.

After arriving in New Delhi Monday, Ghazi expressed optimism about the talks.

The region has been peaceful since late 2003, when India and Pakistan signed a ceasefire in Kashmir.

With forces deployed at elevations of more than 6,300 meters, more soldiers have died from frigid weather than from fighting.