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Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Pakistan proposes nuclear talks
Indian Foreign Secretary Shashank (R) and his Pakistani counterpart, Riaz Khokhar
Negotiations between India and Pakistan are becoming more common
Pakistan has offered to host nuclear disarmament talks with India next month, the foreign ministry said.

Islamabad has suggested 25-26 May for the talks, which would focus on confidence-building measures.

The proposal was conveyed to the Indian High Commission, and follows on from a meeting between the foreign secretaries of the two countries in February.

Nuclear discussions then focused on each country establishing a minimum deterrence threshold, officials say.

'Durable peace'

The Indian foreign ministry in Delhi said it would reply soon to the Pakistani invitation.

"This was one that was part of the joint statement issued after the official talks of February 18," an Indian official said.

Pakistan's semi-official APP news agency said that the invitation had been issued as part of the peace roadmap agreed between the two countries.

ROADMAP TIMETABLE
March 8 and 9: Talks on Kashmir bus service
March 29 and 30: Talks on a bus service between Pakistan's Sindh province and India's Rajasthan state
March or April: Border security officials to talk on smuggling and drug trafficking
May: Experts discuss nuclear confidence-building measures
May or June: Foreign secretaries to discuss Kashmir
July: Talks on terrorism and economic co-operation
August: Summit between foreign ministers

The nuclear-armed rivals say they want to reach a peaceful settlement of all bilateral issues, including disputed Kashmir.

They have already agreed some confidence-building measures in relation to nuclear arms, including an annual exchange of information on the location of each other's nuclear installations and facilities, APP said.

The proposed discussions are separate from negotiations due to take place between the foreign secretaries of the two countries in May or June, and their foreign ministers in August.

The talks schedule was agreed at February's landmark meeting in Islamabad - the first such dialogue in three years.

Top of the agenda for Pakistan then was Kashmir, over which the nations have fought two wars since independence in 1947.


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