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Pakistan, India Open Nuclear Talks in Islamabad


Pakistan and India have begun the latest round in long running nuclear talks in Islamabad. The discussions are part of the broader peace dialogue begun in 2004 to normalize relations and resolve outstanding disputes.

India and Pakistan say they will exchange fresh proposals on how to reduce the risk of an accidental nuclear or conventional conflict during the two-day discussions.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam is optimistic the talks will produce results.

"We approach the talks in a very constructive manner, with a positive frame of mind and we intend to bring some more proposals and take it from there," she said.

During the previous round, held in August in New Delhi, the two sides agreed to notify one another before any ballistic missiles testing.

But since then, analysts warn, the political landscape has changed and similar progress may be more difficult to achieve.

This week's talks are the first between the two countries since the United States proposed a landmark nuclear-cooperation deal with India. That agreement would allow India to purchase civilian nuclear technology, despite its refusal to sign the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

But the accord has been widely criticized in Pakistan, which was not offered a similar deal by Washington because of illegal transfers of nuclear technology by Pakistani scientists to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.

But Pakistan insists its nuclear technology is now properly safeguarded and it deserves a similar agreement with the United States. Otherwise, Islamabad claims, South Asia's nuclear balance will be upset.

"The deal legitimizes India as a nuclear power and Pakistan of course is getting nothing of the sort," said Ayaz Amir, a leading Pakistani political analyst. "It has left Pakistan feeling exposed."

That exposure, Amir says, could push Pakistan to invest more in its own military nuclear programs and resist greater compromise during this week's talks with India.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars in the past years and tensions remain high along the disputed border in the Kashmir region.

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