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Glacier talks at dinner table

New York, Sept. 14: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will expect Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to make a gesture that will trigger progress towards resolving the Siachen dispute when he hosts the General to dinner here tonight.

Sources in Singh’s delegation said India had done its bit towards resolving Siachen when the Prime Minister flew to the disputed glacier recently and declared his resolve to transform the world’s highest battlefield into a “mountain of peace”.

India also expects some progress on the Sir Creek issue at tonight’s meeting.

The two leaders had committed themselves to “finding mutually acceptable solutions to both issues expeditiously” when they met in Delhi in April.

In the run-up to the dinner, both delegations are talking about the likelihood of a proposal to deploy satellite imagery to determine troop positions on and around the glacier as a prelude to disengagement of troops from Siachen.

On Sir Creek, the likely outcome is an agreement on demarcating the international boundary. India may agree to boundary changes within the Creek without making any concessions to Pakistan on the maritime boundary, sources said.

These proposals are understood to have been discussed at a meeting here on the eve of the dinner between Pakistan’s national security adviser Tariq Aziz and Singh’s special envoy on Pakistan, S.K. Lambah.

Announcement of these proposals will enable both Singh and Musharraf to claim progress.

However, Singh was careful to lower expectations when he told President George W. Bush yesterday that Islamabad “still controls the flow of terror” into Jammu and Kashmir and that real progress towards peace was unachievable until there was an end to cross-border terrorism.

The Prime Minister not only said this to the Americans, but the Indian side subsequently made the conversation public in a briefing for Indian correspondents.

The move, according to Indian sources, was partly a sequel to Musharraf's request to Bush yesterday to help in bringing about troop reduction in Jammu and Kashmir.

If all goes well, a tentative schedule for the Prime Minister’s visit to Pakistan may also be announced tonight.

Lunch with CEOs

Singh today met some top corporate honchos over lunch. William Harrison Jr, chairman of JP Morgan Chase, Rex W. Tillerson, president of Exxon-Mobil, Steven S. Reinemund, chairman of Pepsico, and S.Y. Sternberg, CEO of New York Life, were among those who attended the lunch.

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