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Latest news Thursday, 24 September, 1998, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Pakistan tables nuclear offer
Prime Ministers Sharif and Vajpayee
Prime Ministers Sharif and Vajpayee agree to restart high-level talks
Pakistan has made a conditional offer to sign the international treaty banning all nuclear tests within a year in return for the lifting of international sanctions imposed principally by the US and international financial institutions.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, said his country would adhere to the ban only in conditions free from coercion and pressure.

He also said that India must follow suit and agree to ban nuclear testing.

There has not yet been any official response from India, but Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is due to address the General Assembly on Thursday.

American pressure

Pakistan missile
Nuclear weapons testing raised tensions to a new level on the sub-continent
It is not clear whether the lifting of sanctions - imposed on Pakistan and India after they carried out nuclear tests in May - is a precondition for observing the ban.

Since India and then Pakistan conducted nuclear tests earlier this year, both countries have been under pressure from the United States and others to sign up to the comprehensive test ban treaty.

Tit-fot-tat tests
Of the two countries, Pakistan has been hit the hardest by economic sanctions imposed automatically under US non-proliferation law.

Mr Sharif discussed the issue with President Clinton at the UN on Monday.

He told a news conference on Wednesday that his country had taken no final decision on signing the treaty.

Full-scale dialogue

Mr Sharif made the announcement shortly after talks with Mr Vajpayee, at which the two countries agreed to resume a full-scale dialogue including talk on nuclear weapons and the dispute over Kashmir.

Nawaz Sahrif addresses UN
Nawaz Sharif is keen to get economic sanctions lifted
Mr Vajpayee said defence matters, including the question of deploying nuclear missiles, would come up at next month's first session in Islamabad.

"A new era in Indo-Pakistani co-operation is being opened," he said.

Amongst a number of confidence-building measures agreed by the two prime ministers, Mr Vajpayee said both sides had agreed to halt to the shelling across the 'Line of Control' between Pakistani and Indian administered Kashmir.

Mr Sharif told the UN General Assembly that with both sides now declared nuclear powers "neither side has the luxury to contemplate the use of force".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC News
Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif: "We count on the full support of the world community"
BBC News
Jennifer Jensen reports
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