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Pakistan Pushes No Nukes Initiative

pakistan-india tensions, nuclear weapons testing
AP / CBS
Pakistan restored transportation links with nuclear neighbor India, announced full diplomatic ties and called for confidence-building measures concerning their nuclear arsenals, the prime minister said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali also said he hoped the two nations could resolve their decades-long differences over the disputed Kashmir region. The region is divided between both nations but claimed in its entirety by both, and has been the cause of two wars between them.

"I am hopeful a good solid solution should be coming forward on all issues, of course including the Jammu and Kashmir issue," Jamali said.

Jammu is the winter capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Tensions between the neighbors have worried the international community because both nations possess nuclear weapons. Jamali said Tuesday that Pakistan wanted "serious discussion for nuclear and strategic stability in our region."

Besides restoring air, bus and train links, Jamali said he wanted the two nations to restore sports links, including cricket and field hockey games. Except for the World Cup, Pakistan and India have not played a cricket match since 2000.

Jamali said he favored a tiered approach to negotiations with India, with the ultimate goal being a summit between the leaders.

Pakistan's prime minister also sought to increase trade between the two countries by reducing customs and tariffs on more than 70 items. He did not specify the items.

India did not immediately comment on Tuesday's developments.

The peace initiatives between the two countries come ahead of talks in Islamabad on Thursday between Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Pakistani leaders, including Jamali and President Pervez Musharraf. Armitage also will visit India.

Peace overtures began last week when Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said while visiting Indian-ruled Kashmir that he wanted talks with Pakistan.

Jamali then called Vajpayee — the first contact between the leaders in more than two years. Jamali sought peace talks, offering to go to India or have Vajpayee come to Pakistan.

On Friday, Vajpayee told the Indian Parliament he wanted "decisive talks" with Pakistan.

On Monday, Pakistan offered again to eliminate its nuclear weapons and declare South Asia a nuclear-free zone if India reciprocated.

India did not respond but has refused such offers in the past.

Pakistan and India declared themselves nuclear powers after detonating atomic bombs in 1998. They have not opened their arsenals to international inspectors and it is not known exactly how many weapons they have.

The nagging issue that has bedeviled their relationship is Kashmir, the divided Himalayan state that is divided between Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India but claimed by both countries.

A separatist insurgency seeking independence or the merger of mostly Muslim Kashmir with Pakistan by Islamic rebels in India's part of Kashmir, has left 61,000 dead, most of them civilians, since it began in 1989.

Pakistan wants a plebiscite by Kashmiris on both sides of the disputed border to decide whether a united Kashmir should join Hindu India or Islamic Pakistan.

India refuses.

India also has accused Pakistan of supporting militants who cross into Indian Kashmir from Pakistan to launch attacks. Islamabad has denied that.