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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 31, October 1998

India and Pakistan Discuss CBMs

In Islamabad from 16-18 October, senior officials from India and Pakistan discussed possible nuclear-weapons confidence-building measures (CBMs). The two sides could not come to any early agreement, but agreed to meet again in February 1999. The talks were led by the two country's Foreign Secretaries, K. Raghunath (India) and Shamshad Ahmed (Pakistan). According to Ahmed, speaking on 18 October: "The nuclear issue was discussed and we agreed we will show restraint."

According to an unnamed Indian official, briefing reporters in New Delhi on 20 October, India proposed that consideration be given to draw up agreements on the early exchange of information on ballistic missile test flights, as well as procedures designed to avert accidental or unauthorized nuclear launch, such as "communications links that are fail-safe, secure and dedicated." Without naming them, the official said that Pakistan also tabled numerous proposals. The official added: "There was a general agreement on both sides that you need CBMs... This is necessary for building a new security architecture in the region... Basically, from now to February the effort will be to see what are the areas where there is overlap [on CBM proposals] and work on these."

On 21 October, the US Congress - as part of a general spending programme for the next financial year, gave the Clinton Administration the right to waive sanctions against India and/or Pakistan for up to 12 months. According to an unnamed State Department official, speaking on 21 October, the move "does not mean sanctions will be waived. That will be contingent on substantial progress in our high-level discussions with both Pakistan and India on nuclear non-proliferation." The same day, Joseph Biden, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, argued that the "President needs this flexibility to negotiate a resolution to the current tensions in South Asia."

Reports: Pakistan, India can't reach accord, Associated Press, 18 October; India, Pakistan seek trust over nuclear arms, Reuters, 20 October; Congress lets Clinton waive India, Pakistan sanctions, Reuters, 21 October.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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