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June 16, 2000
US, Pak resume high-level dialogue after a year
Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar met United States Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in Washington to resume the high-level dialogue between the two countries, primarily on nuclear and security-related issues. The dialogue was resumed after a year's gap and, apparently, Kashmir also figured in passing.
Following the nuclear tests of May 1998, the US had initiated simultaneous but separate dialogues with Pakistan and India on nuclear and security-related issues.
Later, talking to Pakistani journalists, Sattar said the sensitive issue of terrorism was also discussed but the US did not make any reference to allegations of a Pakistani hand in fomenting violence in Kashmir.
Sattar said Pakistan was committed to combat terrorism and co-operate with international efforts to fight out the menace. Pakistan itself was a victim of terrorism. "The government is determined to tackle the issue firmly and take action against those responsible for terrorist activities," he added.
A Pakistani embassy release issued on Thursday night said that the discussions on Pakistan-India relations, especially Kashmir, were a follow-up on the discussions during US President Bill Clinton's Pakistan visit last March and Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering's visit last month. It gave details of Sattar's discussions with US officials, who included Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
The release said the dialogue provided an opportunity to review nuclear and security-related issues. Sattar stated Pakistan's commitment to a policy of restraint and responsibility, that its nuclear capability was aimed at deterring aggression and posed no threat to any country.
"Pakistan remains committed to its unilateral moratorium on further testing. Similarly, Pakistan would participate in negotiations on the proposed fissile material cut-off treaty in Geneva with an open mind to achieve the objectives of an equitable, non-discriminatory, verifiable and universally accepted treaty," it added. The release said Pakistan was continuing efforts to build domestic consensus on the CTBT.
"We will take every step to reinforce risk reduction mechanisms and appreciate assistance for this purpose. Similarly, we were in the process of further strengthening our export controls system, fully conscious of the responsibility that devolves on Pakistan as a state possessing nuclear capability," Sattar remarked.
The US underlined its sensitivity to the challenges faced by Pakistan, especially economic revival, and emphasised its willingness to be helpful, the release said.
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