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India, Pakistan Discuss Nuclear Security

Negotiators from Pakistan and India have completed two days of talks on measures to avoid the possibility of a nuclear war between the two nations. The talks are due to resume at a later date.

The Pakistani and Indian delegations ended their two-day talks in Islamabad, describing the discussion of nuclear confidence-building measures as "cordial."

Speaking before the conclusion of the talks, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan told VOA the delegations focused primarily on how to warn each other of impending missile tests, and on establishing a new telephone hotline. The two countries frequently conduct test flights of their missiles, although both sides say such exercises are not meant to be provocative. "We zeroed in on two things," he said. "One, of course, is pre-notification of flight tests of missiles. The other was how to strengthen effective communication between the two countries."

Masood Khan
Mr. Khan says a telephone hotline already exists between India and Pakistan's military headquarters, and the delegates discussed setting up another line between their respective foreign ministries. "Pakistan and India are nuclear weapon states, so they need reliable, credible communication," he said.

Negotiators say no final deals were reached on the two measures, but progress was made and further talks will be held at a later date. India first tested atomic weapons in 1974, while Pakistan conducted its first open nuclear test in 1998.

The two countries have fought three wars and several smaller skirmishes, mainly over territorial issues, since their independence from Britain more than a half-century ago. They came close to war most recently in 2002, but a peace process began in 2003 and a series of bi-lateral agreements have been instituted since then. The nuclear talks coincided with discussions on measures related to conventional arms.