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Friday, 28 August, 1998, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
US and India discuss nuclear treaty
Strobe Talbott and Jaswant Singh
Strobe Talbott and Jaswant Singh: Talks progressing
The United States Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, has met a senior representative of the Indian Government, Jaswant Singh, as part of a fresh attempt to persuade India and Pakistan to sign the world's Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty.

Mr Talbott will follow up the talks by travelling to London on Tuesday to meet Pakistan's Foreign Secretary, Shamshad Ahmad.

"The goal of the talks with both countries is to explore how the US and the international community can work with India and Pakistan to bring them back into the international non-proliferation consensus, reduce tensions and address their security concerns," a state department spokesman said.

The Indian embassy in Washington described Monday's talks as "serious and constructive."

In a statement the embassy said Mr Singh and Mr Talbott agreed to meet again in the coming weeks.

India's ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party wants to see a lifting of US-led economic sanctions, which were imposed after its nuclear tests earlier this year, but would face domestic pressure if it gives too much ground.

Critical meeting

The talks between the US and India are thought to be at an advanced stage following the American government's initially robust reaction to the nuclear tests.

Pakistan's Ghauri missile
Pakistan's Ghauri missile is just one reason why arms race fears have escalated
If India does sign the CTBT, it will reverse a strongly-held position that has kept it out of the treaty since most other countries signed it in 1996.

India has been saying the treaty is discriminatory, and has instead urged the five official nuclear powers - the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China - to move toward full nuclear disarmament.

A compromise between the two sides may eventually centre on the US agreeing to India temporarily holding a limited nuclear capacity, though this would prompt calls for similar treatment from Pakistan.

If India signs the treaty, it could lead to the US lifting sanctions.

See also:

26 May 99 | South Asia
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