" --IANS"
Islamabad, March 20 - Both India and Pakistan must respect the Indus Waters Treaty as it is in their interest, Pakistan's Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif said on Monday.

The talks, postponed since 2015, have resumed due to efforts made by the government. They are in the best interests of both neighbours, he said as the 113th India-Pakistan Indus Water Commission conference began here.

A 10-member Indian delegation led by Indian Indus Water Commissioner P.P. Saxena arrived on Sunday for talks, two years after water experts from the two sides met in May 2015, reported Dawn.

The Pakistani team is led by Indus Water Commissioner Mirza Asif Beg.

The two-day talks would focus on the designs, disputed by Pakistan, of the three controversial water projects being built on the Chenab river.

Asif told the media that the talks would focus on three power projects with varying capacities of power generation: Pakul Dal (1,000 MW), Miyar (120 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW).

To respect this agreement (the Indus Waters Treaty) and find a solution through it is in the interest of both countries.

The minister also spoke regarding the controversial Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects about which Pakistan has asked the World Bank to set up a Court of Arbitration to hear its objections, the daily reported.

Asif said delays had been witnessed in the past in the handling of the Kishanganga project.

When we (Pakistan) went to the court of arbitration, our position was not as strong as it could have been if we had approached the court in a timely manner.

However, he added that Pakistan's stand on the Ratle project was very strong.

We are working to make changes to the design of the project that are in Pakistan's interest and which are in accordance with the treaty.

The two countries would not discuss the controversial Kishanganga and Ratle hydropower projects, a senior official earlier told Dawn.

The talks would conclude on Tuesday and the Indian delegation would leave for New Delhi the same day.

The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 and involves six rivers: the Beas, Ravi, Sultlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.

Brokered by the World Bank, the first three rivers were given to India and the other three to Pakistan.



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