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Obama concerned over safety of Pak N-arsenal

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday voiced concern over the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, saying the world cannot allow non-state actors and terrorists to get their hands on the nuclear weapons and end up destroying cities.

world Updated: Mar 28, 2012 00:58 IST

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday voiced concern over the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, saying the world cannot allow non-state actors and terrorists to get their hands on the nuclear weapons and end up destroying cities.

"We can't afford to have non-state actors and terrorists to get their hands on nuclear weapons that would end up destroying our cities or harming our citizens," Obama told reporters alongside Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani before the two leaders held private talks on the sidelines of the nuclear security summit here.

The West is concerned over the safety of Pakistan's nuclear weapons as it remains vulnerable because the atomic facilities are located in areas where "Taliban and al Qaeda are more than capable of launching terrorist attacks".

In their first meeting since the killing of Osama bin Laden in a covert US raid on Pakistani soil last May, the two leaders tried to rescue a troubled anti-terror alliance which has been full of mistrust and recriminations in recent times.

The bilateral ties plunged to an all time low in November when a cross-border Nato air raid killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, prompting Islamabad to curtail ties with the US and launch a parliamentary debate on new terms of engagement with Washington.

"There have been times - I think we should be frank - in the last several months where those relations have experienced strains," Obama told reporters.

Obama said it was important for the both countries to have candid and open talks.

Stating that the Pakistani government wants to work together with the US for a stable Afghanistan, Gilani said he appreciated Obama expressing respect for Pakistan's sovereignty.

Gilani said the Pakistani parliament would decide the dimensions of Islamabad's future relationship with Washington.

Obama in his remarks welcomed Pakistan's review of its relationship with the US, saying it was important for the two countries to get their partnership right.

He also said that neither the US nor Pakistan wanted to see terrorists getting their hands on nuclear materials.

It was important for the US and Pakistan to have candid and open talks, he added.

He said he expected Pakistan's review would result in a "balanced approach that respects Pakistan's sovereignty but (which) also respects our concerns with respect to our national security and our needs to battle terrorists who have targetted us in the past".

The summit had brought together more than 50 leaders and four representatives of international organisations.