Pakistan, India working on nuclear CBMs

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  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    Pakistan, India working on nuclear CBMs

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India hectically worked on comprehensive confidence building measures (CBMs) in the nuclear sphere apart from other issues of peace and security during the the first day’s talks between the foreign secretaries of the two countries here on Thursday.

    The disarmament experts of the two countries were engaged in chalking out their working papers about the set of proposals that have been brought by Indian Secretary for External Affairs Nirupama Rao while Pakistan put up counter proposals.

    Discussion continued between host foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and his visiting counterpart from New Delhi Nirupama Rao till midnight informally, when they were together at the dinner thrown by Salman Bashir in honour of the Indian delegation in a local five-star hotel where the Indian delegation is staying.

    Diplomatic sources revealed to The News late on Thursday evening that the talks covering peace and security would continue on the second day (Friday). Jammu and Kashmir and friendly exchanges would take place after developing an understanding about the CBMs, which will cover the conventional as well unconventional fields. The subject of peace and security had to be addressed on the first day, but it has spilled over in the second day. The CBMs across the line of Control (LOC) would be an important element of talks about Jammu and Kashmir today. The ministry of Culture has been devolved in Pakistan and for the reason the onus of discussion on friendly exchanges have come on the Foreign Ministry additionally as it is discussing this subject for the first time, the sources said.

    The sources pointed out that the intensification of already put in place CBMs in conventional and as well non-conventional fields has come under scrutiny on the first day’s talks.

    Clad in printed Silky Saarhi, the Indian secretary for External Affairs, who has come for the last time in her incumbent capacity to Pakistan, was in pleasant and positive disposition during the course of talks with her Pakistani counterpart. Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal, who is eying the office in South Block to be vacated by the graceful lady by early next month, was also appeared cooperative, the sources said.

    The foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India began their second round of discussions in the afternoon. The Indian secretary has come here ahead of the Pakistani foreign minister’s visit to India next month. In all probabilities, minister of state Ms Hina Rabbani Khar will lead Pakistan’s delegation as foreign minister next month, who is likely to be elevated till then, the sources hinted. Before the beginning of the talks, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said that her visit is important to conclude the first round of dialogue process. The meeting between the two foreign secretaries is part of the resumption of dialogue process, following a meeting between Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh in Thimpu, Bhutan, in April last year on the sidelines of Saarc Summit

    The two countries are pushing ahead with a peace process that stalled after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The ongoing meetings are expected to pave the way for ministerial-level sessions next month. Following an interruption of more than two years, the two countries announced talks would resume after a meeting between Salman Bashir and his Indian counterpart Rao in Bhutan in February.

    The two civil servants, the highest-ranking career diplomats in their respective ministries, have come together for two days of discussions in Islamabad before Pakistani foreign minister is due to visit India next month.

    Rao said she had come “with an open mind and a constructive spirit” to work towards building “trust and confidence” that would eventually lead to a normalization of relations between the nuclear-armed rivals.

    “We expect that the talks will be positive and forward looking,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua told a wire service. She said while discussions would focus on Jammu and Kashmir, peace and security and confidence building, the two sides can also raise any other issues since this round is taking place at foreign secretary level.

    Concerns over terrorism are likely to dominate Indian agenda, just weeks after US troops killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2. Likewise, Pakistan is taking up the question of Indian role in insurgency currently under way in Balochistan. No breakthroughs are expected, but the contacts are considered a key element of efforts to stabilise the region after US President Barack Obama announced the start of US troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

    The international community has been pushing the two sides to get back to the negotiating table to help ease tensions in an already volatile region. Indian government source says they have realistic expectations that they should not expect quick and dramatic solutions.

    The sources are of the view that after many several rounds of talks in consecutive years hopes were being kept deliberately low for the talks. With the India-Pakistan rivalry often spilling into Afghanistan, the United States and its allies are hoping the peace process will gather pace in tandem with plans to gradually withdraw Western troops ahead of a 2014 deadline.

    Progress has been incremental in talks, which have included meetings between defence, interior and trade secretaries and a visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to India to watch an India-Pakistan cricket match with his counterpart Manmohan Singh at Mohali.

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