U.S.-Pakistan to Resume Talks on Nuclear Issues

By Suryamurthy Ramachandran | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

New Delhi (CNSNews.com) - The stalled talks between the United States and Pakistan on security and nuclear issues are scheduled to resume Thursday in Washington.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott will review both countries' position on security in South Asia, according to a statement issued in Pakistan.

The Pakistani statement called the dialogue between the two nations "an important effort for preventing a nuclear arms race and arms build-up in South Asia, where the security climate continues to remain tense on account of the unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute."

Washington and Islamabad have held eight rounds of talks since May 1998, when Pakistan exploded nuclear devices in response to Indian tests, provoking international condemnation and US-led sanctions.

The talks have focused on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a proposed Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty and a multilateral moratorium on the production of fissile material.

Neither India nor Pakistan have signed the CTBT. Islamabad says it will do so only after achieving a national consensus in its favor.

"We are willing to consider any restraint arrangements on a reciprocal basis with India," the Pakistani statement said. "Pakistan pursues a policy of responsibility and restraint on nuclear issues," it said, adding that Pakistan does not permit export of nuclear technology and materials.

President Bill Clinton emphasized non-proliferation and restraint over Kashmir during his trip to India and Pakistan in March.

Pakistan's foreign minister insists that Pakistan's nuclear deterrent is now an indispensable part of its defense doctrine.

"Our nuclear capability is solely for the purpose of deterring aggression against Pakistan," he said. "We remain sensitive to international non-proliferation concerns. We are opposed to an arms race or introduction of weapons' systems which could destabilize the security environment of the region.''

India carried out nuclear tests on May 11, 1998 and Pakistan reacted with its own tests soon afterwards, on May 28. Neither have signed the global Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The two countries declared a moratorium on further testing after their tit-for-tat blasts triggered international condemnation.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since in 1947, two of them over the disputed territory of Kashmir.