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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, 18:06 GMT
Deadlock in S Asia nuclear talks
Meera Shankar and  Tariq Osman
India's Meera Shankar opposite Pakistan's Tariq Osman
India and Pakistan have failed to make progress in talks to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear conflict.

A joint statement pledged a secure hotline between the two countries as soon as possible, but little else.

The meeting in Islamabad was part of wider efforts to improve relations between the South Asian rivals.

The nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars since independence, two over Kashmir. They embarked on a peace process in January.

Meanwhile, in a separate meeting, Indian and Pakistani experts have agreed to carry out a joint survey of their maritime boundaries next year.


The talks in Islamabad were mainly aimed at building confidence and devising a mechanism to avoid an accidental or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons.

Pakistani Hatf V missile launch
Pakistan and India routinely carry out missile tests

The talks are part of an overall process of dialogue covering a range of disputes, including water, arms, trade and the thorniest issue - Kashmir.

The joint statement said both sides reiterated their desire to keep working towards elaborating and implementing the nuclear confidence building measures.

These include the hotline between the foreign secretaries as well as one between top military commanders.

The statement said these measures were intended to prevent misunderstanding and reduce risks relevant to nuclear issues.

But it did not say why the two sides had so far failed to implement these decisions.

More talks are planned.

Both India and Pakistan have continued ballistic missile tests on a routine basis despite the recent peace process.

In 1998, both carried out nuclear tests that led to international condemnation and the imposition of sanctions.

The talks were held amid mutual recriminations by both the countries over each others' conventional arm purchases.

The Indian government voiced its concern at the possibility of the US selling F-16 fighter aircraft to Islamabad during a visit last week to Delhi by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Border talks

Meanwhile, a separate meeting between experts on border disputes agreed to carry out a joint survey of the maritime border region of Sir Creek in the first week of June.

The joint team would observe the boundary pillars installed in the area, whose positioning is the source of dispute.

Earlier in the week, India and Pakistan committed themselves to work together in the fight against illegal drugs.

The head of Pakistan's anti-narcotics force, Maj Gen Nadeem Ahmed said the talks centred on stemming the flow of opium from Afghanistan, the Press Trust of India reported on Tuesday.

Latest estimates from the United Nations point to a huge increase in opium production in Afghanistan this year.

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