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Indo-Pak talks on nuclear CBMs on May 25 & 26
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 21
Soon after being installed at the Centre by the third week of the next month the new government would have to tackle two major foreign policy-related issues: holding expert-level talks with Pakistan on nuclear Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and the Prime Minister’s crucial visit for BIMSTEC summit to be held in Thailand.

Sources said the new Prime Minister’s first foreign visit was likely to be in June-July to attend the Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit which the organisation had deferred earlier in view of general elections in India.

India today conveyed to Pakistan its acceptance of the dates proposed by Islamabad for expert-level talks on nuclear CBMs (May 26-27) and for a meeting of the Committee on Drug Trafficking and Smuggling (June 15-16).

The foreign office spokesman today said: “Pursuant to the meeting of Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan on February 18, 2004, Pakistan had proposed May 25 and 26 as the dates for expert-level talks. We have today conveyed our acceptance of these dates.”

Venue for these meetings will be worked out later by the two sides through diplomatic channels.

The MEA here is tightlipped on what kind of nuclear CBMs India can discuss with a country like Pakistan with which it has fought three wars in the past 57 years.

It is understood that it would be a preliminary exercise, a sort of “talks for talks” situation in the highly sensitive nuclear field.

The two countries have already signed an agreement of non-attack on each other’s nuclear installations and have also been exchanging the list of each other’s nuclear installations for the past 10 years on January 1 every year .

Foreign Secretary Shashank and his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Khokhar, during the former’s most recent visit to Islamabad earlier this year, had agreed that expert-level talks on nuclear CBMs would be held in the latter half of May and that the Committee on Drug Trafficking and Smuggling would meet in June.

The two sides had also agreed that the Foreign Secretaries would meet in May/June this year for talks on peace and security, including CBMs and J&K. Dates for these talks are yet to be decided. Foreign Ministers of the two countries would meet in August to review the overall progress. 

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