ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan and India agreed Tuesday to hold a series of talks in coming weeks on a variety of issues, including a dam being constructed in India's portion of Kashmir (search) that Pakistan says threatens the water supply on its side of the disputed border, the Foreign Ministry said.
The talks will begin in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on July 28-29, when senior bureaucrats will discuss India's Baglihar hydroelectric dam (search), which is under construction on the Chenab River in India's Jammu-Kashmir (search) state. Pakistan says the dam will deprive its agricultural heartland in Kashmir and Punjab of much needed water.
Officials from the two countries will meet again in New Delhi on Aug. 3-4 to discuss ways to build confidence after more than a half-century of mistrust.
On Aug. 5-6, officials from the two nations will meet in New Delhi to discuss a lingering dispute over the world's highest battleground, the Siachin glacier (search), which straddles the Himalayan mountains between Pakistani and Indian portions of Kashmir.
Despite a thaw in relations in recent months, both nations maintain forces on the frigid mountainside.
India earlier this week announced a 27 percent increase in defense spending, sparking alarm in Pakistan. Islamabad also increased defense spending, but only by 7 percent. Observers say both nations' march toward prosperity is being hamstrung by their continued poor relations, and that money spent on the military is badly needed for education and infrastructure development.
On Aug. 6-7, another round of talks will be held in the Indian capital. These will focus on a boundary dispute in the marshlands of Sir Creek, along the border between Pakistan's southern Sindh province and India's western Gujarat state.
All the issues are among a list of disputes between the nuclear-armed nations, many of which stretch back decades to their independence from Britain in 1947. Officials have said they hope to work through the problems and eventually reach a final solution for the larger issue of Kashmir.
Both nation's claim the region in its entirety, and the dispute has sparked two of the three full-scale wars between them.
India accuses Pakistan of backing Islamic militants who have fought Indian security forces since 1989 to win independence for Indian Kashmir or its merger with Muslim-dominated Pakistan.
Pakistan denies the allegation.
Two further meetings are to take place in Islamabad in the first half of August. The first, on Aug. 10-11, will deal with fighting terrorism and drug trafficking. The second, on Aug. 11-12, will focus on economic and commercial cooperation.
Finally, the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India are to meet in New Delhi on Aug. 25 for already-scheduled talks.