Indian, Pakistan soldiers to hold talks on rising Kashmir violence

Updated 14 January 2013
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Indian, Pakistan soldiers to hold talks on rising Kashmir violence

NEW DELHI/JAMMU, India/MIRANSHAH, Pakistan: Military officials from India and Pakistan hold talks today at the Line of Control, which divides disputed Kashmir, in a bid to defuse tensions after a series of deadly attacks in the region, Indian army officials said.
Four soldiers were killed last week in the worst outbreak of violence in Kashmir since the nuclear-armed neighbors agreed a ceasefire nearly a decade ago.
“Yes the two sides will be meeting today. This is a local commander meet,” Colonel Rajesh Kalia, a spokesman for Indian Army’s Northern Command, told Reuters by phone.
Another Indian Army spokesman, Colonel Jagdeep Dahiya, said in New Delhi that the meeting would take place in Mendhar, the scene of one of the deadly attacks, at 1 p.m. (0730 GMT).
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Firing and small skirmishes are common along the 740-km (460-mile) LoC despite a ceasefire that was agreed in 2003. The Indian army says eight of its soldiers were killed in 2012, in 75 incidents of ceasefire violations.
Last Sunday, a Pakistani soldier was killed in what Islamabad said was a cross-border raid mounted by the Indians. The Indian army denied any of its troops breached the control line, but said there had been an exchange of fire.
Two days later, further south along the LoC in the Mendhar district, two Indian soldiers were killed in a thick forest after what Indian officials said was a deep incursion into their territory by Pakistani forces. The head of one of the bodies had been “badly severed,” according to Indian officials.
On Thursday, hostilities erupted again in another part of the ceasefire line, and this time Pakistan said one of its soldiers was killed.

Roadside bomb kills 14 Pakistani troops

Meanwhile, at least 14 Pakistani soldiers were killed and 25 others injured yesterday when a roadside bomb hit a military convoy in a lawless tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.
The improvised explosive device struck the convoy in Dosali village in the troubled North Waziristan tribal district, a notorious stronghold of Taleban and Al- Qaeda-linked militants, a senior military official said.
“At least 14 soldiers embraced martyrdom and 25 others were wounded in an IED (attack),” he said about the bombing which was confirmed by local security officials.
All the soldiers killed were in one truck and those injured were in vehicles behind it, he added.
Local residents said military helicopter gunships had reached the scene after the attack. Nobody immediately claimed responsibility but Taleban militants frequently attack security forces in the area.
The seven northwestern tribal districts are rife with homegrown insurgents as well as Taleban and Al-Qaeda-linked operatives.
Islamabad says more than 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
On Saturday, Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taleban, had circulated a leaflet calling for an end to the Taleban’s infrequent attacks on Pakistani soldiers in North Waziristan.
Thousands of Pakistani soldiers are stationed in North Waziristan.
FROM: AGENCIES


UN Security Council meets over Syria in remote Swedish farmhouse

Updated 40 min 24 sec ago
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UN Security Council meets over Syria in remote Swedish farmhouse

BACKARA- SWEDEN: The UN Security Council met in a secluded farmhouse on the southern tip of Sweden on Saturday in a bid to overcome deep divisions over how to end the war in Syria.
In a first for the Council, which normally holds its annual brainstorming session in upstate New York, the 15 ambassadors and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres were this year invited to hold an informal meeting in Backakra by Sweden, a non-permanent member of the body.
The United Nations’ special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is expected on Sunday.
The farmhouse is the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations’ second secretary-general who died in a plane crash in Africa in 1961.
Situated in the heart of a nature reserve, just a stone’s throw from the Baltic Sea, the farmhouse consists of four buildings around a courtyard and has been completely renovated in recent years.
The southern wing serves as the summer residence for the Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Literature Prize.
With both New York and Damascus thousands of kilometers away, the Council is exploring “the means to strengthen and make more effective United Nations peacekeeping missions,” the Swedish government said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom welcomed the decision to hold the meeting in Sweden, “where there is a long tradition of peaceful conflict prevention and resolution.”
But as she arrived in Backakra on Saturday morning she warned against being too hopeful the Syrian issue would be resolved over the weekend.
“Hopefully there will be some new ideas on the table and I think it’ll be on those tracks: the humanitarian situation, the chemical weapons,” she said.
But “not even the beautiful settings like these can solve all the problems,” the minister added.
The country’s deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau said the idea was to foster dialogue and “relaunch momentum” with “humility and patience,” a week after the air strikes by France, Britain and the United States against the Syrian regime.
“It’s important for the council’s credibility,” Skau told reporters in New York.
While the war in Syria is not the only topic of the deliberations, it is high up on the agenda because it was an issue that divided council members deeply in recent months.
Skau said Backakra was a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.