Reviving non-proliferation talks dormant since February 1999, Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar visited Washington June 15 to meet with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and other high-level U.S. officials. Initiated after the May 1998 Indian-Pakistani nuclear tests, the talks, which have also been undertaken with India, have produced little concrete progress to date. Instability on the subcontinent—including the April 1999 fall of the Indian government, ongoing Indian-Pakistani fighting in Kashmir, and the October 1999 coup that ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif—contributed to the long lapse since the last meeting.
The latest round of talks covered a wide range of non-proliferation and security issues, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a fissile material cutoff treaty, potential restraints on Pakistan's nuclear program, export controls, and the security environment in South Asia. The U.S. and Pakistani views are reportedly closest on national export controls and steps that could lead to Pakistan's signature of the CTBT, while they remain sharply divided on nuclear restraints and ways to improve the security environment on the subcontinent. Their positions reportedly converge somewhat on steps to negotiate and conclude a fissile material cutoff treaty.
A follow-up meeting has not been scheduled, but the two sides agreed to "continue to work closely together to prevent further proliferation, an arms race, and conflict in the region," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said during a June 16 briefing.