"Pakistan has today proposed 25-26 May as the dates for hosting expert-level talks on nuclear CBMs (confidence building measures)," a formal statement in Islamabad said on Monday.

  

The proposal was conveyed to the Indian High Commission, it added. The proposed talks are part of efforts to mend ties and resume dialogue which has been stalled since July 2001.

  

During foreign secretary-level meetings in mid-February, Pakistan proposed holding discussions on "strategic restraint" and a minimum deterrence threshold, officials said then.

 

Indian response

 

In New Delhi, the Indian Foreign Ministry said it would soon respond to the invitation.
  
"This was one of the items that was part of the joint statement issued after the official talks of 18 February. We have received the (proposed) date ... and we would be responding," Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

 

"This was one of the items that was part of the joint statement issued after the official talks of 18 February"

Navtej Sharma,
Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman

The often-hostile neighbours' possession of nuclear arsenals has made South Asia one of the world's most feared potential nuclear flashpoints.

  

Pakistan went public as a nuclear power when it conducted a series of test explosions in May 1998, weeks after similar tests by India.

  

Neither side is a signatory to non-proliferation treaties.

  

Pakistan was uncovered earlier this year as the centre of the world's worst nuclear proliferation scandal, when the founder of its nuclear programme publicly confessed to selling nuclear technology and expertise to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

  

The government has denied any knowledge of or role in the proliferation activities.