India and Pakistan fail to agree on arsenals


INDIA: India and Pakistan yesterday failed to finalise any agreements at the end of two days of talks on steps to avert misunderstandings over their nuclear and conventional arsenals, but claimed their discussions were "constructive" writes Rahul Bedi in New Delhi

The talks in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, are aimed at ushering in peace in a highly volatile region. They began on Tuesday as part of the tentative "composite dialogue" between the two nuclear rivals who came close to war two years ago

Ms Meera Shankar, the head of the Indian delegation, said there was "constructive engagement on a range of issues" and hoped to continue the discussions at various levels in future.

"We remain committed to the process," she said, adding that both aides had put across their concepts clearly and covered "considerable ground".

The head of the Pakistani delegation, Mr Tariq Osman Hyder, admitted that no formal agreement was reached to notify each other of missile tests, a practice that is followed informally at present.

"These agreements are extremely complex. They raise many legal issues. When we want to go forward on them, we have to examine them carefully and I think both sides understand the concerns of the other," he said.

He added that the two sides had constructive discussions regarding the technical parameters of an agreement in June to establish a 'hotline' between the respective foreign ministries to avert nuclear misunderstandings.