WASHINGTON: The United States, Pakistan and India are quietly exploring the possibility of a meeting between Indian and Pakistani prime ministers in the US capital next month, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi have both accepted US President Barack Obama’s invitation to attend a nuclear summit he is hosting in Washington on March 31 and April 1.

“The chances are strong, very strong,” said a senior official who did not want to be identified. “But you know the history of India-Pakistan talks, you cannot be certain about an event until it has happened,” the official added.

It will be the first time that both Indian and Pakistani premiers will be attending the nuclear security summit, which President Obama initiated in 2010.

The summit has a specific aim, preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons and it brings leaders from across the world to discuss various proposals for attaining this goal.

The first summit was held in Washington on April 12–13, 2010. The second summit in Seoul, South Korea in 2012 and the third was held in The Hague in 2014.

Since this is President Obama’s final year in office, the administration is pushing hard for achieving some concrete results during the fourth summit.

In recent statements, US officials have expressed concern at the proliferation of small nuclear weapons in South Asia.

“We’re concerned both about the security of those nuclear weapons, and that’s been a common refrain in our discussions with Pakistan,” said Mark Toner while responding to a question about the alleged increase in Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons.

“But we’re also concerned, clearly, about tensions between India and Pakistan in the region, and we want to see a dialogue between those two countries, clearly, to help alleviate some of those tensions,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2016

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