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Britain Praises Pakistan's Crackdown on Nuclear Proliferation - 2004-03-04

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is praising Pakistan for its crackdown on nuclear proliferation. His statement, made on a visit to Islamabad, follows calls by France for Pakistan to join an international forum on nuclear issues.

Mr. Straw told reporters that Britain was pleased with Pakistan's actions, in the wake of a proliferation scandal involving the former head of its nuclear-weapons research program.

"Everybody has an interest in ensuring that there is complete security of nuclear facilities, plans, technology, and intellectual property," he said. "And so, we commend the actions which have been taken by the Pakistani government."

Pakistan concluded a nationwide investigation last month into proliferation by its scientists, in cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.

The man considered the "father" of Pakistan's atomic bomb, Abdul-Qadeer Khan, has admitted aiding Iran, North Korea and Libya in their attempts to produce nuclear weapons.

Mr. Straw's visit included a meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, to discuss the nuclear issue and other topics, such as the peace talks between Pakistan and India.

His trip follows a weekend visit by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, who called on Pakistan to join France and other nuclear powers in an international dialogue on halting the spread of nuclear weapons.

Joining Mr. Straw at the news conference, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri reaffirmed his country's willingness to cooperate with the international community.

But Mr. Kasuri added that all nations possessing atomic weapons should be officially recognized as nuclear powers.

"It will be in the interest of the international community that nuclear powers like Pakistan, India and Israel be recognized as such," added Mr. Kasuri.

India and Pakistan each exploded nuclear devices in 1998, but are not considered nuclear weapons states under international treaty.

Israel has never tested nuclear weapons, but is widely believed to possess them.