Non-proliferation and security issues dominate eighth round of Pak- US talks : Talbott

ISLAMABAD, Feb 3 (APP) :U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott on Tuesday said his talks with Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed, was dominated by a wide- range of security and non-proliferation issues. US was well- aware of Pakistan's concerns and wanted its "vital security interests protected", Strobe Talbott told a galaxy of scholars and intellectuals at the Institute of Strategic Studies here. Flanked by Information, Culture and Sports Minister Mushahid Hussain Sayed and ISS Chairman Dr. Tanvir Ahmed Khan, he said, there was a vast territory and scope of Pak-US relations but their attention was caught by non-proliferations issues. Talbott said, "we know what is the basic issue," adding, it was to, "get sanctions lifted." Strobe Talbott said," US is not happy to keep Pakistan under sanctions," but both sides are trying to figure out if there was a way out in this regard. He said Pakistan and US dialogue was on delicate issues, and they were engaged in a ,"balancing act," while maintaining, transparency and confidentiality." "The only workable solution to nuclear issue is one that Pakistani leaders, parliament and people clearly see in their own best log-term interest, " he said. Asked, whether he had left behind a ray of hope, Talbott said, "I will go home incrementally hopeful." Talbott said Pakistan occupies a, "great if not greater position in post -cold war," era and can serve anchor of stability in the region. He termed nuclear tests by Pakistan in last May, a "setback," to its standing in international community and to its endeavours for economic recovery. Talbott said, Pakistan, could take," concrete and positive steps," to bring itself back in the mainstream of international community and join global efforts to check nuclear weapons proliferation.

US accepts centrality of Kashmir issue in South Asia

ISLAMABAD, Feb 3 (APP) :US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott supporting current Pak-India dialogue, on Tuesday said, United States was aware of the centrality of Kashmir and would use its good offices with India for its settlement. "Yes ,we will use our good offices with India and Pakistan to bring about a settlement," of a fifty years old issue, he said during the question-answer session after his talk at the Institute of Strategic Studies here. To a question on Kashmir, if US was ready to play its positive role on peaceful resolution of the dispute, he said, "yes, in every way, we can possibly". However, Talbott said, US, " cannot be in a position to be a mediator between the two sides," as it has not been asked by the parties concerned. Talbott said US would do its best for finding a solution of Kashmir dispute, saying,it was ,"on our agenda." US, " supports and encourages the efforts, " by Pakistan and India to resolve the disputes that divide them, including the question of Jammu and Kashmir," he said in his opening statement. "We have listened carefully to what you have said on this subject, we understand the centrality of this issue to you; and we will do everything, we can to help. I assure you that I pressed this point during my visit to delhi over the weekend," said Talbott. Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, he said, expressed his optimism, on his talks he had held with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Referring to Lahore-Delhi Bus Service which began between the two countries recently, he said, "it is much more than symbolic."

Pak-US have significantly achieved their objectives during 8th round of talks: Shamshad

ISLAMABAD, Feb 3 (APP) :Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed Tuesday said Pakistan and US, during their eighth round of talks, have ,"significantly achieved," their objectives. "And I think during 8th round of talks we have significantly achieved our objectives," Shamshad told reporters soon after his talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott here. Talbott arrived here Monday to hold eighth round of talks with Pakistani officials on the issues of peace, security and non- proliferation. Shamshad said, in eighth months, eight rounds of talks itself," indicate the seriousness and the propensity of our engagements." He said the purpose of this,"engagement," had been to bring "our positions and our respective concerns and objectives closer." The Foreign Secretary said, both sides have, had good discussion which were characterize by the ,"frankness and cordiality," the two sides had established during past seven rounds of talks. The Foreign Secretary did not give details of the talks and said a joint statement would be issued later.

Talks covered entire gambit of Pak- US relations: Talbott

ISLAMABAD, Feb 3 (APP) :US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said Tuesday his talks with Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed," covered an entire gambit," of Pak- US relationship and the two sides made full use of the opportunity to," make decisions." He was talking to reporters alongwith Shamshad Ahmed, soonafter their formal talks at the Foreign Office here Tuesday. Strobe Talbott also called Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz and held discussions with him. Both Talbott and Shamshad did not divulge details of the eighth round of their talks on issues of peace, security and non- proliferations, saying, these will be released in a joint statement later in the day. Talbott his brief chat with waiting journalists at Foreign Office left to call on Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. Talbott said, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Shamshad has ,"summarized the spirit and substance of our discussions," so he had nothing to add. However he said, all his ,"previous encounters, "with Pakistani officials, had been, "worthwhile." Pakistan and US, he said, " not just on topic A, but have ,"wide scope, they want to develop," between them. He said officials from US State Deparnment, National Security and Treasury Departments are accompanying him. Talbott arived here Monday from New Delhi on a 2-day visit to Pakistan. US Assistant Secretary Of State Karl Inderfurth and Vice Chairman of joint chiefs Gen. Ralston. To a question CTBT, he said, "I think," Prime Minister Sharif has made a commitment on CTBT," during his visit to New York in September last year. Nawaz Sharif had stated during his address to UN General Assembly that Pakistan would, "adhere," to CTBT. Talbott said, he was looking forward to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shortly.

Nawaz calls for active US role on Kashmir

ISLAMABAD, Feb 3 (APP): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday underlined the need for an active role of the United States and international community for an expeditious settlement of Kashmir dispute,"which lay at the centre of security problems in South Asia." He made these remarks at a meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. "The Prime Minister emphasized Pakistan's desire for a durable peace and stability in the region and the role which U.S. and the international community should play for an expeditiously final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute which lay at the centre of security problems in South Asia," an official statement said. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, recalling his meeting with President Clinton last December, reiterated his satisfaction at the results of his visit to Washington. He expressed appreciation that the F-16 issue had been amicably resolved, the IMF and the World Bank had renewed assistance packages for Pakistan and the Paris club had rescheduled Pakistan's official debt, following the partial removal of U.S. sanctions. Talbott conveyed greetings from President Clinton and a strong expression of support to a vibrant and broad-based relationship with Pakistan.

Pakistan seeks more active US role for Kashmir settlement

ISLAMABAD, Feb 3 (APP): Pakistan and the United States Tuesday concluded their eighth round of talks with Islamabad urging for a more active role by Washington for the solution of Kashmir dispute. "Pakistan urged the US to play more active role towards the solution of the Kashmir dispute," said the joint statement issued after the talks. It said the Security situation in South Asia was reviewed particularly in the context of the agenda for the talks. Both sides shared the view that they should further efforts for the promotion of durable peace and stability in the region. "The US expressed its strong support for the current talks between Pakistan and India on Kashmir," it added. The two sides considered further steps to advance the objectives of the dialogue.