Washington: The United States has said that it is carefully reviewing the Chinese decision to build two nuclear power plants in Pakistan and asked the atomic power countries to honour their non-proliferation commitments.
"I think this is something that is still under discussion among all of us. Obviously it's important from our perspective that all countries live up to their commitments," US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said at the Brookings Institute - a Washington-based think tank.
Despite reservations from the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the China Nuclear Corporation has agreed to finance two additional civilian reactors in Pakistan.
"The Chinese have argued that it's grandfathered. This is something that we haven't I think reached a final conclusion on. But it's something we're obviously looking at very carefully," Steinberg said in response to a question.
"I think it's important to scrupulously honour these nonproliferation commitments. So we'll want to continue to engage on the question, about whether this is permitted under the understandings of the IAEA," Steinberg said.
The top State Department official said the United States has intensified its discussion with China on its role in South Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan in particular.
While Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke has been to Beijing several times, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake held US-China Strategic Sub-Dialogue on South Asia early this month.
"We have had an intensified conversation with China on these issues. Ambassador Holbrooke has been to Beijing several times. We've had conversations both in Beijing and elsewhere.
The Chinese have participated in a number of the multilateral meetings involving Afghanistan. And I think our objectives are largely coincident in Afghanistan," he said.
"I think we all seek a stable Afghanistan that's has an inclusive government that's responsive to its people; and a particular concern to both of us, that it does not harbor violent extremists that can pose a threat to the United States, Afghanistan's neighbours and the international community as a whole. So I think that the basic framework within which we approach these things does have a shared set of interests," Steinberg said.
Welcoming Chinese economic investment in Afghanistan, the US official said creating jobs and economic opportunity is part of a long-term strategy for creating a stable Afghanistan, creating alternatives to illicit production of narcotics and other sources of income for the Afghan people.
"So investment is important. And as long as that investment is transparent and meets generally accepted international standards, to the extent that it involves assistance, we welcome it. It is something we've had a dialogue with the Chinese about, but it's largely a positive one," Steinberg said.
"Similarly, with respect to Pakistan, we think that China can play an important role in helping strengthen the capacity of the Pakistan government to meet the needs of its people and to provide an alternative to the extremism which threatens the Pakistani state as well as the rest of us," he said.
"So I think, in the main, our interests and our objectives are common. They're never identical in any case, but it's important that all the neighbours who have a big stake in a stable and nonthreatening Afghanistan work together. And we've been encouraged by China's growing willingness to be part of that effort," the State Department official said.