Page last updated at 07:18 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 08:18 UK

Nuclear weapons debated in Sydney

By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

Smoke over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, an hour after the US air force dropped a nuclear bomb on the city on 6 August 1945
A visit to Hiroshima - hit by a nuclear bomb in WWII - inspired the new body

The first meeting of the newly established International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament has been held in Sydney.

It was set up by the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

He is aiming to reinvigorate the global debate ahead of a 2010 conference which will review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

He launched the scheme in June after visiting Hiroshima in Japan, which was devastated by a nuclear bomb in 1945.

The commission is being co-chaired Australia's former foreign minister, Gareth Evans and Japan's former foreign minister, Yoriko Kawaguchi.

India-Pakistan 'progress'

Given a two-year mandate, the new commission is intended to revive the global debate on the spread of nuclear weapons ahead of the 2010 conference, which will review the four decades old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The new body includes commissioners drawn from five nuclear powers - the US, China, Russia, the UK and France - as well as countries including Indonesia, Germany, South Africa and Norway.

Most significant perhaps is the participation of two senior figures from India and Pakistan: a former Indian diplomat, Brajesh Mishra, and ex-army chief, Jehangir Karamat.

Neither country has entered into international talks on non-proliferation since the treaty came into effect in 1970, and although the two men are not formally representing their governments, their inclusion is being widely interpreted as a sign of progress.

The co-chair Mr Evans has said that the world can never achieve nuclear disarmament unless countries which have refused to join the non-proliferation treaty - such as India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea - are brought into the new process.

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