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India, Pak exchange Sir Creek maps
K J M Varma in Islamabad
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March 23, 2007 15:59 IST

Moving a step closer to resolving the Indo-Pak maritime boundary dispute over Sir Creek, a marshy strip off the Gujarat coast, officials from India and Pakistan have exchanged maps drawn after a month-long joint survey of the area.

Maps drawn from the charts prepared during a joint survey of Sir Creek were exchanged at the Wagah border around 2300 hours on Thursday night, a senior Indian diplomat told PTI in Islamabad.

Though the meeting was scheduled to take place on Thursday morning, the officials could meet only late on Thursday night due to problems over finalising the maps, which officials on both sides believe were the key to resolving the dispute.

The two sides will now study the maps and discuss the results in the meeting of defence officials on Sir Creek scheduled to take place in the third week of next month.

It could also figure in the defence secretaries-level talks to be held in Islamabad on April 6-7 to discuss troop pullout from the Siachen glacier.

The defence secretaries' meeting is part of the fourth round of the Composite Dialogue process, which was kicked off by foreign secretaries of the two countries in Islamabad this month.

The maps on Sir Creek were prepared following a month-long joint survey of the 65 mile long marshy strip from January 15 in which top hydrographers along with the ships of the two navies took part.

The survey covered the land as well as the coast to verify the outermost points of the coastlines in the disputed area on the principle of equidistance.

The settlement of the Sir Creek issue will help both countries to determine their maritime boundary in that area.

India says the boundary should be in the middle of the estuary, while Pakistan argues that the border should lie on the south-east bank.

This is the second survey being conducted in Sir Creek in as many years.

The first survey conducted last year covered the horizontal section of the creek.

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