Hopes low for progress at India, Pakistan's first river-sharing talks in three years

Neha Arora
·1-min read

By Neha Arora

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian official played down on Tuesday prospects for a breakthrough at the first talks in three years with neighbouring Pakistan aimed at resolving long-running disputes over hydroelectric projects on the shared Indus River.

Pakistan is concerned that India's plans for hydroelectric plants in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir will damage the flow of the river, which feeds 80% of its irrigated agriculture, along with tributaries.

India has defended the construction of its Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai dams, saying they are allowed by the Indus Water Treaty brokered by the World Bank.

"It is our job to find a middle path. But to say we can achieve something is maybe a bit too optimistic," an Indian official involved in the talks in New Delhi told Reuters.

"There are many things on which we can't compromise," added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

India issued no statement on the talks, which are set to end on Wednesday.

The talks come after a gap of three years because of tension over Kashmir, the Muslim-majority territory both south Asian nations claim in full.

In recent weeks, the nuclear-armed rivals have taken tentative steps to improve ties, such as a rare military pact last month to stop firing on the Kashmir border that has killed scores of civilians.

(Reporting by Neha Arora; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Clarence Fernandez)