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Russian Envoy: South Asian Nuclear Arms Race a 'Dangerous Thing'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the ongoing nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan a "dangerous thing," in light of the two longtime antagonists' history of armed entanglements, ITAR-Tass reported on Tuesday.

The minister noted how both South Asian states are developing and testing new nuclear-weapon capabilities outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

"That's a dangerous thing if one considers the history of knotty relationship between the two countries, including their red-hot phases," he said in an interview with the Nezavissimaya Gazeta newspaper.

Lavrov added, though, that he sees signs of progress in bilateral direct talks that New Delhi and Islamabad have been holding.

"This dialogue is gathering pace gradually and we're motivating it in every possible way," the foreign policy chief said.

At the same time, Russia has given its support to India's campaign for membership in the exclusive international Nuclear Suppliers Group. Lavrov said Moscow  is "ready to assist the process" should Islamabad mount a bid for entry in the atomic export control group, though he suggested Pakistan would have a tougher time pleading its case.

"Unlike India that has never faced the situations where its nuclear programs ... their components would be trickling abroad, the Pakistani history does contain instances of this," he said referring to the infamous proliferation ring operated by Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Meanwhile, former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said the U.S. government's longtime assistance to the Pakistani military has led to a security establishment with misplaced priorities that is too large for the country, Agence France-Presse reported.

"A nation with nuclear weapons should not behave like a guy who keeps buying guns because he says he needs to defend his family and then stays up all night because he's afraid somebody will come and steal his guns -- and then further down has a heart attack because of high blood pressure that he suffered from staying up," the onetime diplomat said in an apparent reference to Pakistani concerns that the U.S. military is plotting to seize Islamabad's nuclear arsenal.

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