The UN's top court said Wednesday it will hear arguments next year on the fate of an Indian national sentenced to death in Pakistan for spying, a charge denied by New Delhi.

Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav was arrested in the restive southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan in March 2016. Pakistani officials claim he confessed to spying for the Indian intelligence services.

He was convicted in April 2017 by a military court and sentenced to death. But India has maintained that Jadhav was not a spy and that he was "kidnapped from Iran by Pakistan".

New Delhi dragged Islamabad to the International Court of Justice in May 2017 -- accusing it of violating the Vienna Convention by failing to provide Jadhav with consular access, as well as breaking international human rights laws.

The ICJ handed down an urgent ruling later that same month to stop Jadhav's execution, while judges mull the merits of the case.

The Hague-based court -- which rules in disputes between countries -- is now to hear arguments from both countries in a four-day hearing, starting on Monday, February 18, next year.

"The ICJ will hold public hearings in the case at the Peace Palace, the seat of the court," it said in a statement.

The hearings will start with India stating its case, followed by Pakistan and then a second round, which will again be started by India.

The case -- a rare foray for the two South Asian nations into the international courts -- has highlighted a recent sharp upsurge in tension between the nuclear-armed rivals since Jadhav's arrest.

Relations between the two countries remain strained, more than 70 years after colonial British India was carved into two nations.

Armed clashes continue particularly in the northern Himalayan frontier area of Kashmir, where an Indian soldier and five suspected militants died in fighting a week ago in two separate incidents.

The incidents came days after India abruptly cancelled a meeting with Pakistan, just 24-hours after agreeing to the rare encounter on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

New Delhi said it cancelled the talks after the "brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan-based entities."

High-level talks between India and Pakistan are rare and the meeting between their foreign ministers would have been the first for nearly three years.