Nuclear risk reduction talks in South Asia

The News, April 26, 2006
Pakistan, India discuss nuclear risk reduction
By Mariana Baabar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India held two rounds of talks to discuss an Indian draft proposal on nuclear risk reduction at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here on Tuesday.

Additional Secretary Tariq Osman Hyder and his Indian counterpart, KC Singh, led their respective delegations at the talks. The delegations comprised experts and officials of the two foreign ministries of Pakistan and India. This is the fourth round of talks on nuclear confidence building measures (CBMs) between the two countries.

“Today was the first day of talks on nuclear and conventional CBMs. These talks will continue on Wednesday and we hope to have a joint statement at the end of the day,” an official confided to The News.

When asked whether or not Islamabad expected a breakthrough on the draft proposal and an agreement, the official said, “This evening I cannot speculate a breakthrough. However, if there is good movement in the last round tomorrow, it would be seen as a positive sign. We are very hopeful. Remember it takes two to tango. Don’t forget that the success of the pre-notification of ballistic testing missile agreement saw at least three rounds of talks before the two sides could arrive at an agreement.”

It was in August 2005 that New Delhi put forward the nuclear risk reduction proposal which was welcomed by Islamabad and it was decided to move forward and negotiate a final agreement.

Earlier, it was Additional Secretary Tariq Osman Hyder behind the gruelling rounds of talks which finally saw both countries agreeing on pre-notification of ballistic testing of nuclear missiles.

Tuesday saw the absence of an acting spokesperson at this important time when the media needed interaction with the Foreign Office as no official was authorised to speak on record. The foreign minister is in Germany while the secretary and the spokesperson have left for the US.

Sources told The News that during the talks Pakistan put several proposals on the table in an environment which was positive and cordial. “Several proposals were exchanged and the Indian side put forward counter-proposals,” said one source.

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