India, Pak meet on nuke, conventional CBMs begins

Islamabad: Senior Indian and Pakistani officials today began two-day talks on nuclear and conventional confidence-building measures here as part of the peace process between the two countries.

This is the first meeting of the Joint Working Group on nuclear and conventional CBMs since October 2007 though other officials, including the two Foreign Secretaries, have discussed these issues in recent meetings in Islamabad and New Delhi, diplomatic sources told PTI.

Today`s discussions will focus on conventional CBMs while nuclear issues will be taken up on Tuesday. Among the issues that are expected to be discussed are CBMs related to Jammu and Kashmir and missile tests and steps to boost cross-LoC trade and travel, the sources said.

In an apparent bid to strengthen its case for access to civil nuclear technology, Pakistan has been pressing the issue of civil nuclear cooperation with India, including a proposal to discuss measures to cope with a Fukushima-like situation, the sources said.

The 10-member Indian delegation includes diplomats who handle issues related to Pakistan and disarmament. D Bala Verma, Director General (disarmament and international security affairs) is leading the group on nuclear CBMs while Yashwant K Sinha, Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) heads the group on conventional CBMs. The Pakistani side is led by Additional Secretary Munawar Saeed Bhatti.

This is the fifth round of expert-level talks on conventional CBMs and the sixth round on nuclear CBMs. The decision to re-convene the two groups was made when the two Foreign Secretaries met here in June this year.

India and Pakistan resumed their dialogue process early this year after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.