The two-day talks, to begin on Saturday, take place six years after both nations conducted tit-for-tat nuclear tests that sent shockwaves across the world and invited economic sanctions.

 

A missiles race runs parallel to the race for nuclear arms, with both countries conducting regular missile tests.

 

India and Pakistan are scheduled to discuss mutual reductions in their nuclear arsenals and the setting up of a communication centre to reduce the risk of nuclear conflict.

 

Officials will talk about how to avoid nuclear-secrets leaks and the steps needed to withdraw nuclear-capable missiles from their borders.

 

Hotline planned

 

Also on the agenda is the establishment of a telephone hotline between the Indian prime minister and the Pakistani president.

 

"We are carrying positive suggestions and look forward to result-oriented talks," said Tariq Usman Haider, additional secretary in Pakistan's Foreign Office, on arrival in New Delhi on Friday.

 

"We are carrying
positive suggestions
and look forward to result-oriented talks"

Tariq Usman Haider,
Additional Secretary,
Pakistan Foreign Office

The weekend talks follow a memorandum of understanding signed by India and Pakistan in February 1999, in which they agreed to discuss reducing the possibility of accidental or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons.

 

The agreement was signed in Lahore by former Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the then Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, after the former made a historic bus journey to Pakistan.

 

The Lahore declaration aimed to defuse tension in the region following the May 1998 nuclear tests.

 

But in May 1999, Pakistan-backed guerrillas seized strategic positions in Kargil on the Indian side of the Line of Control that divides disputed Kashmir.

 

Relations steadily deteriorated, with both countries on the brink of war in 2002. Since last April they have taken steps to put the peace process back on track.