Pak, US officials hold talks on `non-proliferation challenges`

Sr Pak and US officials held a "productive exchange" on "non-proliferation challenges" and multilateral regimes on chemical and biological weapons.

Islamabad: Senior Pakistani and American officials on Monday held a "productive exchange" on "non-proliferation challenges" and multilateral regimes on chemical and biological weapons amid global concerns over the rapid expansion of Pakistan`s nuclear arsenal.

Additional Secretary for UN and Economic Coordination Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and acting Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller co-chaired the Pakistan-US Security, Strategic Stability, and Non-proliferation Working Group in Islamabad.

The participants "shared views on non-proliferation challenges as well as on the multilateral regimes on chemical and biological weapons, export controls, and the importance of regional stability and security", a joint statement issued after the talks said without giving details.

The two sides had a "productive exchange of views on issues of mutual importance, including international efforts to enhance nuclear security and peaceful applications of nuclear energy", the statement said.

The joint statement further said the Pakistan-US Working Group was "an invaluable forum for discussing these issues of critical mutual importance" both sides looked forward to continuing the process.

The meeting of the Working Group was part of a dialogue on a range of issues related to the bilateral relationship.

The Economic and Finance Working Group met in Washington on November 30, the Defence Consultative Group in Islamabad on December 3-4, and the Energy Working Group in Islamabad on December 7.

The world community has expressed concern at the rapid expansion of Pakistan`s nuclear arsenal in recent years.

Former Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran recently wrote in an article that Pakistan had moved its nuclear doctrine from minimum deterrence to second strike capability and expanded its arsenal to include tactical weapons that can be delivered by short-range missiles like the Hatf-IX.

Pakistan has also shifted from an earlier generation of enriched uranium weapons to a newer generation of plutonium- based weapons, Saran wrote.

He contended that Pakistan had significantly increased the number of weapons and that it had apparently overtaken India`s nuclear arsenal.

Pakistani officials have for long contended that the country`s nuclear arsenal is meant to counter India`s conventional military superiority.

Islamabad has also been pushing Washington for a civil nuclear deal on the lines of an agreement between the US and India, saying it needs nuclear power to meet the country`s rapidly increasing energy needs.

The US has indicated that such a deal is currently not possible due to fears linked to the nuclear proliferation ring operated by AQ Khan.


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