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Pakistan, India Describe Nuclear Talks 'Constructive'

Indian and Pakistani officials on Wednesday described as constructive and cordial their two-day talks on ways and means to avert any possible nuclear conflict.  

Heads of the Pakistani and Indian delegations told reporters in Islamabad that they have decided to continue talks on nuclear Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).


"The talks were constructive and held in cordial atmosphere," said Pakistani Foreign Office Additional Secretary Tariq Usman Hyder, who led the Pakistani delegation during the talks.


He said the two sides will inform their foreign secretaries about the progress in the talks who are scheduled to meet on Dec.27-28.


"Objective of the talks is to reduce the threat of nuclear conflict," Meera Shankar, additional secretary of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said after the talks.


"The two sides held discussions in a cordial and constructive atmosphere, in the framework of the Lahore MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) of 1999 and the Joint Statement of June 20, 2004. Both sides reiterated their desire to keep working towards elaboration and implementation of Nuclear CBMs, within the agreed framework," said a joint statement issued after the talks.


"Detailed consultations were also held on the early operationalization of the decisions taken during the last round of expert level talks on nuclear CBMs held in New Delhi on June 19-20,2004, especially on the up-grade of the existing hotline and establishment of a dedicated and secure hotline between the two foreign secretaries," the statement said.


It said both sides agreed that future periodic expert level talks on Nuclear CBMs would discuss, review and monitor the implementation of Nuclear CBMs as called for by the Lahore MoU of 1999.


Earlier, the Pakistani Foreign Office said one of the aims of the talks would be to finalize a formal agreement on the prior notification of ballistic missile tests but the two sides did not reach any formal agreement.


Tariq Usman Hyder, the Pakistani delegation head, said he handed over a draft of the proposed agreement on the missile testing.


The two sides already have a tradition to inform each other prior to missile test but they want a formal agreement.


In 1998, both countries carried out nuclear tests and they are engaged in nuclear capable ballistic missiles.


(Xinhua News Agency December 16, 2004)

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