Pakistan on Thursday questioned the concerns expressed by India over the possibility of a United States-Pakistan civil nuclear deal and referred to a 2008 statement by the former External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, to expose the frequent shifts in the Indian position.

Amid reports of the U.S. being open to hearing out Pakistan's case for a civil nuclear deal, official sources in India said on Monday: “We hope the international community would strike the right balance between meeting energy needs of any country while taking on board its track record with regard to proliferation of nuclear technology and weapons of mass destruction.”

Responding to questions on this stance taken by India on a possible Pakistan-U.S. civil nuclear deal — similar to the one America has with India — Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said every sovereign country had a right to strengthen its bilateral relations.

Further, Mr. Basit noted that Mr. Mukherjee had in 2008 said that India was in favour of Washington cooperating with Islamabad in the civil nuclear area.

‘Many dimensions'

Though the U.S. has been non-committal on such a deal with Pakistan, Mr. Basit said it would be unfair to see the latest round of strategic dialogue solely through the prism of a civil nuclear agreement.

“This dialogue has many dimensions and energy is one of the areas where the two countries are exploring the scope for cooperation,” he said.

Describing the strategic dialogue — the fourth in a series that began in 2006 after then U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to Pakistan — as “unprecedented,” Mr. Basit was optimistic about the outcome.

This is the first time the dialogue is being held at the ministerial level and Mr. Basit pointed out that both countries have a mutual desire to take existing relations to a higher level.

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