WASHINGTON: The United States and Pakistan will hold key talks on nuclear non-proliferation and strategic stability in the US capital next week.
Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, who arrives in Washington on May 30, will lead senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Strategic Plans Division at these talks.
Rose Eilene Gottemoeller, the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, will lead the US team.
“This will be a comprehensive dialogue. Both countries will be sharing their respective perspectives on nuclear non-proliferation and on other strategic issues,” said a senior diplomatic source familiar with the process.
The talks are part of the strategic dialogue process, which includes six working groups for economy and trade, energy, counter-terrorism and law-enforcement, defence and nuclear non-proliferation and education, science and technology.
The discovery of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and a US air raid on the Salala border, both in 2011, had disrupted the dialogue process. But relations have improved markedly in the past two years.
Diplomatic observers in Washington noted that the nuclear and strategic stability talks, which begin on June 1, were “very important from Pakistan’s point of view.”
They pointed out that Pakistan’s recent steps to improve the safety and security of its nuclear assets had helped generate a better understanding of its nuclear programme in the Western capitals, particularly in Washington.
At a news briefing last week, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf rejected media suggestions that Saudi and Pakistani officials had met recently to discuss nuclear cooperation.
“I’m not sure I would presume that was the topic of discussion, and I don’t think we have concern about it,” she said.
Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2015