Saturday, March 04, 2006

"Bush Says Pakistan Cannot Expect Nuclear Deal Like One With India

This is why the "core/gap" approach is a good one.

NYT - ISLAMABAD, March 4 -- President Bush made clear today that Pakistan should not expect anytime soon a civilian nuclear agreement like the one the United States reached only days ago with India, and he bluntly said that the two archrivals on the subcontinent cannot be compared to each other.

Mr. Bush said that he and Pakistan’s president, General Pervez Musharraf, had discussed a civilian nuclear program for Pakistan during talks this morning.

“I explained that Pakistan and India are different countries with different needs and different histories," Mr. Bush said at a joint outdoor news conference with Mr. Musharraf on the grounds of the presidential palace, Aiwan-e-Sadr. “So as we proceed forward, our strategy will take in effect those well-known differences."

Mr. Bush had never been expected to endorse a nuclear agreement with Pakistan, the country of A.Q Khan, the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear program who has confessed to running the largest illegal nuclear proliferation network in history. But it was striking that the president spoke so directly as his host, Mr. Musharraf, stood at his side.

Critics of Mr. Bush’s nuclear agreement with India say that it will only encourage other nations to demand similar arrangements. Under the terms of the Indian pact, the United States would end a decades-long moratorium on sales of nuclear fuel and reactor components and India would separate its civilian and military nuclear programs, and open the civilian facilities to international inspections.

Before Mr. Bush’s remarks, administration officials had said that Mr. Musharraf had no chance of making such a deal because proliferation and terrorism remain concerns in Pakistan.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, struggled to answer local journalists who asked if Pakistan had not been left empty-handed after the visit. Speaking at a news briefing this afternoon to release the joint statement issued by both presidents, he said Mr. Musharraf had pressed the case for civil nuclear cooperation, since Pakistan had urgent energy needs. "These things take a long time," he said. President Bush had hinted at something, he said, but he declined to explain further."
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