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|June 30, 1998||
Pak foreign secretary meets Talbott, urges US to play a leading role
Pakistani foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmed has met US deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott and urged the United States to assume a leadership role in initiating a "credible and effective" process for the resolution of Kashmir and other disputes between India and Pakistan.
"We reiterated that Kashmir is key not only to peace between India and Pakistan but also to bring about a change in the Indian nuclear posture," he told Pakistani journalists in Washington yesterday after the meeting.
Ahmed, who was on a private visit to the United States, accepted the state department's invitation as, he put it, and "it was a welcome opportunity to exchange views".
After the talks with Talbott, he had luncheon with under secretary of state for South Asian affairs Karl Inderfurth and other officials associated with the region participated in the discussion.
Later, an American official said the meeting was very constructive and the process of high-level discussion with India and Pakistan which began with the visit here of Planning Commission deputy chairman Jaswant Singh on June 12, would continue.
Jaswant Singh came here as a special envoy of Prime Minister A B Vajpayee. Ahmed, during his meeting with Talbott and Pickering, exchanged views on South Asia's security situation, which h ad undergone drastic transformation in the aftermath of nuclear tests by India.
He said Pakistan had delinked from India its position on non-proliferation. Earlier, its stand all along has been that it would sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty "only after India had done so".
Asked if Pakistan would be prepared to unilaterally sign the CTBT, Ahmed said, "We shall make a determination on the basis of a strategic review being carried out at present and which may take pretty long."
Replying to another question, Ahmed said Pakistan was ready for bilateral and multilateral dialogue to resolve issues resulting from nuclear blasts. "We will not accept under any condition a non-proliferation regime that is not based on strategic balance. For a stable non-proliferation regime, it is also essential that current conventional arms imbalance which is preponderantly in India's favour be removed," he added.
He said India had raised the China bogey only to justify its military build-up. Both sides shared concern over India's fresh deals with Russia for building two nuclear reactors and its programme for building nuclear submarines with Russian assistance, he added.
He was happy at recognition shown by the US of the fact that settlement of the Kashmir dispute is key to resolution of conflict and tensions between India and Pakistan and for promoting non-proliferation in the region.
Ahmed welcomed the initiative taken by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to send a special envoy to the region. "We regret India's refusal to receive him. We are ready to fully cooperate with the secretary general in dealing with conflicts in South Asia," he added.
"Now that strategic parity has been restored in South Asia," he pointed out, "Pakistan is willing to cooperate in efforts at fostering peace and security in the region, confidence building between India and Pakistan, and working towards disarmament in the region."
"We made it clear that Pakistan does not wish to enter into nuclear arms race with India. Nor do we want to compete in weaponisation of nuclear capability or deployment of nuclear warheads," he added.
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