Indo-Pak armies talk, stop firing

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SRINAGAR: The armies of Pakistan and India have agreed to meet face-to-face to “reduce” tension on the borders of disputed Kashmir, officials have said.

The decision came on Tuesday after lieutenant general PR Kumar of India and major general Amir Riaz of Pakistan spoke by telephone, pledging to “defuse the situation” at the defacto Line of Control border and the south-west “working boundary”, where the armies have targeted each other for weeks.

The borders cut the Himalayan region into Pakistan- and India-administered Kashmir.

“Both sides mutually agreed to reduce tension along the Line of Control and working boundary,” Pakistan said on Tuesday.

Telephone talks between the two military leaderships take every Tuesday during which issues between both armies are discussed but the face-to-face meetings, known as “flag meetings”, are a further measure.

India’s director general of paramilitary border security forces, DK Pathak said Pakistan had so far declined to hold flag meetings.

“We have made all possible efforts to stop it (ceasefire violations and firing). We tried four to five times to hold flag meetings. But they did not respond … they never turned up,” the local news agency PTI quoted Pathak as saying.

Both sides have accused each other of targetting villages in Ranbir Singh Pura of India-administered Kashmir and Sialkot in Pakistan.

The Pakistani army says during July and August, Indian forces committed 23 ceasefire violations by “resorting to unprovoked firing on working boundary” in Chawah, Harpal and Chaprar Sectors near Sialkot.

Meanwhile an unidentified rebel was killed by the Indian troops in a gun battle in the Kalaroos jungles in Kupwara district on Tuesday, the Reuters reported.

Last week, a group of rebels had crossed the LoC in northern Kalaroos. The area, in which they were suspected to be in, was cordoned off by the Indian army resulting in a gun battle in which four rebels and an Indian soldier were killed. Later another Indian soldier was killed in a seperate gunfight in the contested area.

The two Asian neighbours have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, and came close to a fourth in 2001.

Regular clashes often occur since 1989 between Indian soldiers and rebels belonging to a dozen groups seeking independence or merger of the territory with Pakistan.

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