U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday voiced concern over the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, saying the world cannot allow non-state actors and terrorists to get their hands on the nuclear weapons and end up destroying cities.
“We can't afford to have non-state actors and terrorists to get their ha
nds on nuclear weapons that would end up destroying our cities or harming our citizens,” Mr. Obama told reporters alongside Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani before the two leaders held private talks on the sidelines of the nuclear security summit here.
The West is concerned over the safety of Pakistan's nuclear weapons as it remains vulnerable because the atomic facilities are located in areas where “Taliban and al-Qaeda are more than capable of launching terrorist attacks”.
In their first meeting since the killing of Osama bin Laden in a covert U.S. raid on Pakistani soil last May, the two leaders tried to rescue a troubled anti-terror alliance which has been full of mistrust and recriminations in recent times.
The bilateral ties plunged to an all time low in November when a cross-border NATO air raid killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, prompting Islamabad to curtail ties with the U.S. and launch a parliamentary debate on new terms of engagement with Washington.
“There have been times — I think we should be frank — in the last several months where those relations have experienced strains,” Mr. Obama told reporters.
Mr. Obama said it was important for the both countries to have candid and open talks.
Mr. Obama said he expects Pakistan's review of bilateral ties will result in a “balanced approach that respects Pakistan's sovereignty but also respects our concerns with respect to our national security and our needs to battle terrorists who have targeted us in the past.”