Consider reducing n-arsenal, US tells Pakistan

Washington, March 1 (IANS) Islamabad has urged Washington to show a greater understanding of Pakistan’s security concerns as US Secretary of State John Kerry asked the south Asian country to consider reducing its nuclear arsenal.

Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz and John Kerry made these remarks at the inaugural session of the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, which both sides used to vent their concerns on pressing issues instead of confining themselves to traditional bonhomie exchanged at such occasions.

“Nuclear safety is of obvious concern to both our countries, and I expect that we will continue to discuss the obligations of being a responsible state with nuclear weapons in the coming year,” Dawn online quoted Kerry as saying.

He recalled that the US and Russia once had more than 50,000 atomic warheads each but they reduced those to 1,500 each and were working on further reductions.

“I think it’s important for Pakistan to really process that reality and put that front and centre in its policy. And we look forward to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s participation in the Nuclear Security Summit next month,” he said.

Pakistan argues that it will not accept any unilateral curb on its nuclear programme and that any reduction should apply to India as well and the US should also consider Pakistan’s concerns on the growing weapon disparity.

Aziz, while responding to Kerry’s remarks, referred to Pakistan’s position on this issue.

“Our engagement on non-proliferation and strategic stability will continue and Pakistan hopes to see greater US understanding of Pakistan’s security concerns and its desire to contribute actively as a mainstream nuclear power,” Aziz said.

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