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Central & South Asia
Nuclear pact signed in India
Pakistan and India pledge committment to dialogue despite Monday's train attacks.
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2007 13:39 GMT

Leaders from both countries say the train blasts on Monday aimed to distract from peace talks [AFP]

India and Pakistan have signed an agreement in New Delhi to reduce the risk of a nuclear arms accident between the South Asian neighbours.
 
The ceremony on Wednesday, two days after a train attacked killed 68 people from both countries, took place as the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers pledged renewed commitment to their peace process.
Pranab Mukherjee, India's foreign minister, said: "The holding of the joint commission meeting as scheduled is a reaffirmation of the commitment of both India and Pakistan to the dialogue process.
"You have also witnessed the signing this morning of the agreement between India and Pakistan on reducing the risk of accidents relating to nuclear weapons."
 
The nuclear accord, which comes into force immediately, was the key confidence-building measure of the visit by Khurshid Kasuri, Pakistan's foreign minister, which began on Tuesday as part of efforts to resolve six decades of bloodshed over Kashmir.
 
Dialogue process
 
No details were immediately available on how the agreement will work in practice. The two sides already exchange lists of nuclear facilities at the start of every year.
 
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Islamabad and New Delhi first put forward the idea for a nuclear weapon safeguard agreement in 1999, but a bloody conflict at Kargil in Kashmir intervened and it took until January 2004 for peace talks to be re-launched.
 
The countries held tit-for-tat nuclear weapons tests in May 1998 that led to international sanctions on both and fears they would consider the weapons as bargaining chips in the dispute over Kashmir which caused two of their three wars since independence in 1947.
 
Mukherjee and Kasuri held a press conference after the signing and answered questions centred on the attacks which killed 68 Pakistanis and Indians on a cross-border train on Monday after two bombs exploded and started a fire.
 
Similar attacks have in the past derailed the peace process.
 

Terrorism was expected to figure high on Wednesday's agenda, an Indian official said, after the bombing of the "Friendship Express" - a key transport link between the estranged neighbours.

 

The agreement titled Reducing the Risk from Accidents relating to Nuclear Weapons was signed by India's foreign ministry additional secretary KC Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Tariq Osman Hyder.
Source:
Agencies
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