India holds back on talks with Pakistan water secretary

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India has put on hold a World Bank-facilitated initiative for water secretary-level talks with Pakistan in Washington, owing to differences of opinion on techical issues of Indus River hydel projects.

Persons familiar with the issue told ET that further expert level technical discussions are imperative before the two secretaries can meet. The meeting would be futile if the water resources secretaries meet without the requisite preparation, said one of the persons.

Incidentally, India's move to cancel talks comes close on the heels of Pakistani military tribunal's order to execute Kulbhusban Jadhav. Delhi has put on hold a maritime dialogue with Pakistan and weighing several other tough political and legal options to safeguard Jadhav.

Persons familiar with the developments told ET that efforts to safeguard Jadhav could be a prolonged process as it involves several legal procedures within Pakistan as well as through the United Nations.

The World Bank, which brokered the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960, had said it is prepared to facilitate the meeting. "We continue to work with both countries to resolve the issue in an amicable manner and in line with the spirit of the treaty. We hope the two countries will come to an agreement soon," Alexander Anthony Ferguson, World Bank's senior manager communications (South Asia) said in a statement last month.

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