Rushing to address a "uniquely dangerous situation," diplomats representing the world's five original nuclear powers sought ways Thursday to avert a new and far more lethal war between India and Pakistan.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright emerged from meetings with her counterparts from Russia and China Thursday, confident that the five powers - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain - are united in calling on India and Pakistan to refrain from further nuclear testing and pull back from an incipient arms race.Albright met separately with Chinese Foreign Minister Jiaxuan Tang and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov before diplomats from the five powers convened to approve a joint communique on the India-Pakistan crisis. U.S. officials said a key concern of Albright is making sure the traditional Russian tilt toward India and Chinese support for Pakistan do not prevent the five powers from producing a strong joint statement.
A draft of the communique, as described by a senior U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity, urges India and Pakistan to engage in direct talks on resolving their disputes, with the help of confidence-building measures by the five powers if needed.
The draft communique also underscores the urgency of India's and Pakistan's rejoining the global arms-control movement they sent staggering last month when they conducted nuclear weapons tests, the official said. Specifically, it urges India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty unconditionally - meaning without any "rewards" such as permanent status on the U.N. Security Council or any changes in the obligations the treaty imposes on nuclear powers.
One key point in the joint statement wasdesigned to encourage India and Pakistan to refrain from further nuclear testing.