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No first strike, India assures Pak

The two sides held detailed parleys on the draft text, the objective of which is to reduce risk from nuclear accidents.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2006 09:34 IST

India on Wednesday assured Pakistan it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons in case of a conflict between the two neighbours - and that it was not engaged in an arms race.

"There should be absolutely no danger (of a first strike) to our friends in Pakistan," DPA quoted KC Singh, additional secretary in the Indian ministry of external affairs, as saying.

Singh led the Indian delegation to the two-day talks on nuclear confidence building measures (CBMs). He was speaking to reporters on the conclusion of the talks which, however, but could not finalise a draft agreement on "reducing risk of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons".

At the same time the two countries "reiterated their desire to keep working towards further elaboration and implementation of nuclear CBMs with the objective of promoting a stable environment of peace and security between the two countries," a joint statement issued on the conclusion of the talks said.

"The two sides held detailed discussions on the draft text of an agreement, the objective of which is to reduce the risk from accidents relating to nuclear weapons, and agreed to work towards its finalisation," the statement added.

During its stay here, the Indian delegation also called on Pakistan's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar.

According to Singh, the talks were one more step in reinforcing stability in South Asia, adding India approached its relationship with Pakistan from "positive parametres" of engagement and friendship.

Singh stressed India did not believe in the arms race.

"We do not acquire arms to promote the arms race in the region," he maintained.

Singh's counterpart Tariq Osman Hyder, who led his country's delegation at the talks, said Pakistan's intention was to have "result-oriented" talks with India.

He hoped that there would be further progress on finalising the draft agreement on reducing the risk of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons.

The discussions were held "in a cordial and constructive atmosphere", the statement said.

"(The two sides) also agreed to report the progress made in the present round of the talks to the respective foreign secretaries, who will decide on the date and venue of the next expert level meeting on nuclear CBMs," the statement added.

"As mandated by foreign secretaries, the two sides continued consultations on security concepts and nuclear doctrines to develop measures for confidence building.

"The two sides expressed their satisfaction on the signing of the agreement on pre-notification of flight testing of ballistic missiles and the operationalisation of the hotline link between the two foreign secretaries.

"These measures are, inter alia, intended to prevent misunderstanding and reduce risks relevant to nuclear issues," the statement said.