Washington: The US has asked Pakistan to first take necessary steps to address the non-proliferation concerns of the international community, especially on rogue scientist AQ Khan`s clandestine network, as a basis for consideration of a request for a civilian nuclear deal.
Pakistan has so far failed to secure a clear commitment for its much sought-after civil nuclear deal from the US on the lines of that of India.
It is believed that the US has not said a "No" to the Pakistani request in this regard; but instead asked visiting delegation led by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, which also included Pakistani Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, to initiate steps that would restore the confidence of the international community in its nuclear programme.
The high-level Pakistani delegation is understood to have given assurances to initiate steps in this regard, the sources said, adding that the administration would closely monitor the developments in the country in this regard.
Topping the list is the complete disbanding of the rogue nuclear scientist AQ Khan network, so that the US is convinced that such a network could not grow up in the future.
It also requires international monitoring/inspection of its nuclear facilities.
"Given Pakistan`s history of selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, such an agreement would realistically be 10 or 15 years away. Still, the administration was careful not to dismiss the idea out of hand," a senior administration official was quoted as saying by The New York Times.
In his opening remarks of the upgraded Strategic Dialogue, Qureshi had sought "non-discriminatory use of available energy resources" for Pakistan, in an apparent reference to the civilian nuclear deal.
At a press conference, later in the day, in response to a question, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said this was one of the "complicated issues" with Pakistan.
"We`re committed to helping Pakistan meet its real energy needs," she said.
Qureshi was quoted in media as saying that he was very satisfied with the talks he had with the US on civilian nuclear deal. However, he refrained from giving any further details about the talks on civilian nuclear deal. 74-year-old Khan, the father of Pakistan`s atomic bomb, admitted on television in 2004 that he leaked nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya, although he later retracted his remarks.
The US government has warned that Khan continues to be a nuclear proliferation risk.
Senator John Kerry, who chairs the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also gave an indication in this regard that for civilian nuclear deal, it is Pakistan who has to take appropriate steps so that not only the administration and the Congress is convinced about the non-proliferation issues emanating from it, but also America`s international partners, whose help would be required to get the international sanctity of such a deal.
"There are countless things that they would have to do in order to achieve it. If they`re willing to do all those things, we`ll see," Kerry said.
Meanwhile, in an interaction with the Pakistani media, Kayani was quoted as saying that Pakistani Army is ready to forgo hardware to ensure that country`s energy and economic needs are met.
"I told Senator John Kerry and Senator Richard Lugar that in order to make sure that Pakistan`s economy and energy needs are met, we are willing to forgo the military equipment that we have asked for," Kayani said.
"The most important concerns for Pakistan today are economy and energy and we have emphasised that with the American administration that these are the needs that need to be met," he added.