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Gandhi, Bhutto Discuss Nuclear Tensions

July 17, 1989

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and India’s Rajiv Gandhi met for more than two hours today and discussed the threat of a nuclear arms race between the south Asian rivals.

The prime ministers told reporters there are obstacles to warm relations between the traditionally hostile nations.

Gandhi, who left Pakistan 17 hours after he arrived, said nuclear weapons ″is one of the bigger problems between our two countries.″

Since a predominately Moslem Pakistan was carved out of Hindu-dominated India in 1947, the two nations have gone to war three times.

Although India has successfully tested a nuclear device, each country denies widespread reports that it has nuclear weapons.

Gandhi, 44, said a stumbling block to resolving the nuclear tensions between the countries is the Pakistan army’s control over Pakistan’s nuclear program, something Ms. Bhutto denied.

Ms. Bhutto, 36, said ″we do not believe in nuclear proliferation ... We believe in peace, global peace, regional peace.″

Both Gandhi and Bhutto are the offspring of past leaders of their respective countries. The two met for the first time during a south Asia summit hosted by Pakistan in December.

During that summit, India and Pakistan signed an agreement not to attack each others’ nuclear facilities.

Pakistan has offered to open its nuclear facilities to international inspection, but Ms. Bhutto said her country will not do so alone. India rejects the idea.

Gandhi arrived in the Pakistani capital Sunday to colorful 10-foot banners and a ceremonial 19-gun salute. He was kept from viewing about 300 protesters from the disputed Kashmir region - India’s only predominantly Moslem state. Kashmir is claimed by both nations.

″We are not against India and Pakistan’s rapprochement, but we don’t want their friendship at our cost,″ said one protester, Sultan Mahmood Chowdry of the Azad Moslem conference.

The protesters said they wanted the fate of the region resolved through a plebiscite, in line with a 1949 United Nation’s resolution.

But the two leaders said they favored a 1972 agreement, signed by Gandhi’s mother, Indira, and Ms. Bhutto’s father, calling for a solution through bilateral talks.

Mrs. Gandhi was killed by an assassin in 1984 and Ms. Bhutto’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in 1979 after being overthrown in a bloodless coup and found guilty by a court of killing a political foe.

″We want a unified Kashmir whether it is part of Pakistan or an independent state,″ said Chowdry.

″A plebiscite in the Kashmir is totally out for us,″ said Gandhi.

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