The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nuclear twins learn to tango

New Delhi, June 20: India and Pakistan today announced a series of steps to reduce the risk of an accidental atomic war and sent a coordinated signal to the world that their nuclear weapons programmes would not be dismantled.

The neighbours declared that the “nuclear capabilities of each other” constitute a “factor for stability” in the region.

A joint statement, issued at the end of talks on nuclear confidence-building measures, added that both sides were “conscious of their obligation to their peoples and the international community” and wanted to work towards “strategic stability”.

The cleverly worded statement acknowledges the concern the rest of the world has over a possible nuclear conflict in South Asia, but it also strives to stress the importance of retaining each other’s nuclear teeth.

Since India and Pakistan exploded their nuclear veils in May 1998, there have been a number of attempts by key international players to force the two countries to roll back their nuclear and missile programmes.

Officials of both sides sought to present a united nuclear front before the world, saying the joint statement in itself is proof that the talks progressed in a positive direction.

The statement lists several steps to avert misunderstandings that could trigger a conflagration .

Both sides will be hoping that the “positive mood” will spill over to two impending rounds of high-profile exchanges. Foreign ministers K. Natwar Singh and Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri are expected to hold talks in China tomorrow on the sidelines of a conference. Shaking hands, Singh and Kasuri today shared a flight from Hong Kong.

On next Sunday, the foreign secretaries of the two countries will meet to discuss, peace and stability and Kashmir.

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