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July 24, 1998


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Pak, US wind up 'substantive and constructive' talks

The three-day talks between Pakistan and the United States, which focussed on the global dimensions of the security situation in the aftermath of the nuclear tests, have concluded, with both sides describing them as ''substantive and constructive.''

They also agreed to resume the discussions in the later part of August.

US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who led the American side in the talks, later left Islamabad for Washington yesterday.

A brief statement issued on the conclusion of talks said the two sides discussed the regional dimensions of the security situation in the aftermath of the May nuclear tests, non-proliferation, arms control, Jammu and Kashmir and confidence building measures.

The two sides also attached considerable importance to the forthcoming meeting between prime ministers Nawaz Sharief and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Colombo next week. They also discussed current economic and financial circumstances in Pakistan, in which context the US expressed support for the impending mission of the International Monetary Fund.

Talbott's visit to Islamabad is part of the ongoing dialogue and constructive engagement between Pakistan and the United States on the entire range of bilateral relations and security issues of concern to the two sides.

Talking to newsmen before his departure, Talbott said Washington has a vital interest in the strength, security, stability and prosperity of a democratic Pakistan. He said they also have a vital interest in the sustenance and enhancement of the global non-proliferation regime, which was reflected in the talks between the two sides.

Describing his talks with Pakistani leaders as solid and serious, he said the leadership was addressing the concerns and interest of Pakistani people at the appropriate time and that quiet diplomacy is operating in the best interests of the United States and Pakistan. The Pakistani leadership explained to him Pakistan's perception of its defence and security needs and the contribution that it can make to peace, security, stability and global non-proliferation, he added.

Replying to a question about the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Talbott said, "The United States has signed the CTBT and believes the rest of international community should adhere to the CTBT, it is in everybody's interests, including Pakistan, to have universal adherence to the CTBT. Of course, that is one of the many issues that we have worked on over the last couple of days.''

He said the US hopes for a positive outcome of the Colombo summit between India and Pakistan. ''Direct Pakistani and Indian dialogue has to resume and we will be watching and supporting in every way," he added.

Saying that confidentiality would serve mutual interest, Talbott said, ''The foreign secretary and I have agreed that in one aspect we gave our efforts so far the highest possible marks and that is in preserving a very high degree of confidentiality.''

Asked about the opposition to signing the CTBT in Pakistan, Talbott said, ''The Pakistani leadership is to address the concerns and interests of Pakistani people.''

Replying to another question Talbott said none of the two sides are giving any concession to each other and neither did such words figured in the talks. He said both Pakistan and the US are friends and Washington wants nothing but the best for Pakistan and feel that it will be reciprocated by the Pakistani side. "There is every reason to keep up the good work that is underway."

Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad said the timing for acceding to the CTBT can be determined when Pakistan is absolutely sure that its vital concerns have been fully safeguarded. ''Pakistan wants to decide on this issue on the basis of its vital security interest and not under coercion,'' he added.

Ahmad said, ''There has to be clear demonstration of an effective engagement on the part of major powers in the whole process of peace and security in South Asia which has to focus on Kashmir.'' As far as the situation of peace and security in South Asia is concerned, it is entirely indicated on how we proceed in respect of the Kashmir issue.

He said Pakistan will see how the situation evolves during the meeting between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan in Colombo. Pakistan, he said, will see to what extent the Indians are ready to reciprocate in addressing the Kashmir dispute.

Replying to another question, Shamshad Ahmad said Pakistan is seeking resumption of dialogue with India but that should be based on the understanding of June 1997 including discussion on peace and security and Kashmir. He said Pakistan would like to focus on a priority basis on issues of peace security and Kashmir as in the current situation these two items have acquired greater relevance and urgency.


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