Pakistan offers to host nuclear talks with India next month
ISLAMABAD (AFP) Apr 05, 2004
Pakistan on Monday formally offered to host nuclear disarmament talks with rival India next month, the foreign ministry said.

"Pakistan has today proposed 25-26 May as the dates for hosting expert-level talks on nuclear CBMs (confidence building measures)," a formal statement said.

The proposal was conveyed to the Indian High Commission (embassy), it added. The proposed talks are part of efforts to mend ties and resume dialogue which has been stalled since July 2001.

During foreign secretary-level meetings mid-February, Pakistan proposed holding discussions on "strategic restraint" and a minimum deterrence threshold, officials said then.

In New Delhi, the Indian foreign ministry said it would soon respond to the invitation.

"This was one of the items that was part of the joint statement issued after the official talks of February 18. We have received the (proposed) date ... and we would be responding," foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

The often-hostile neighbours' possession of nuclear arsenals has made South Asia one of the world's most feared potential nuclear flashpoints.

Many observers believed the subcontinent was on the verge of a nuclear conflict when the two sides came close to their fourth war two years ago over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Pakistan went public as a nuclear power when it conducted a series of test nuclear explosions in May 1998, weeks after similar tests by India.

Neither side is signatory to non-proliferation treaties.

Pakistan was exposed earlier this year as the center of the world's worst nuclear proliferation scandal, when the founder of its nuclear program publicly confessed to selling nuclear technology and expertise to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

The government has denied any knowledge of or role in the proliferation activities.