WASHINGTON - Pakistan is strongly committed to the objective of nuclear security and its active engagement with the international efforts has been acknowledged and appreciated by US President Barack Obama, Minister of State Syed Tariq Fatemi said in an exclusive interview on Saturday.

Talking to APP at the end of three-day Nuclear Security Summit, Fatemi said that on the floor and during the meetings, President Obama in his remarks acknowledged the fact that several countries, including Pakistan, have ratified the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM).

"Ratification of CPPNM by Pakistan has been seen as a step forward towards the operationalisation of the Convention and to strengthen the security of nuclear material worldwide. A large number of delegates attending the Summit termed Pakistan's decision to ratify the Convention as yet another manifestation of Pakistan's credentials as a responsible nuclear power", Fatemi added.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was to represent Pakistan, cancelled his visit at the last moment to personally monitor the situation after the Lahore terrorist attack that has been followed by a security crackdown to nab the culprits.

Fatemi was assisted by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary, Pakistan's Ambassador in Washington Jalil Abbas Jilani and other senior officials.

Prime Minister's absence was felt by world leaders and that was referred to by President Obama during his conversation with Fatemi.

The US President stated that he fully understands the decision by the Prime Minister to stay back, Fatemi said.

It was, however, a matter of great satisfaction that Fatemi was able to represent Pakistan's point of view most effectively. After PM's participation in the last two summits, Pakistan's profile received fresh recognition in this context.

"Pakistan's active participation was able to convey to international community far-reaching initiatives taken by Pakistan to enhance and strengthen security and safety of its nuclear material," Fatemi said and added that many of the world leaders including Obama and head of IAEA have acknowledged Pakistan's performance as exemplary.

Fatemi said that he declared on the floor of the summit that Pakistan is not only a responsible nuclear State but has taken measures including ratification of international conventions that entitles it to gain membership in the International Non Proliferation Regime on the basis of non-discriminatory approach and as an equal partner in the global nuclear security architecture."

"In fact Pakistan received wide appreciation by all world leaders for its enormous progress in the realms of nuclear security and safety," Fatemi said.

Responding to a question Fatemi said that in the summit there was no adverse reference by any delegate on Pakistan's nuclear programme and its safety.

It is worth mentioning here that, though a summit meeting, Fatemi received special attention and he was given the floor to speak ahead of several leaders which showed the importance the US attached to Pakistan in global efforts for nuclear security.

Fatemi said that during meetings and working sessions, Pakistan highlighted its role as a responsible nuclear power and the fact that it was party to several international instruments relevant to nuclear safety and security.

"Within the framework of these instruments and the IAEA activities and programmes, Pakistan is committed to international cooperation consistent with our national priorities," Fatemi said.

Responding to a question, the Minister of State said that Pakistan takes its responsibilities related to nuclear safety and security very seriously, a fact that was duly acknowledged by the US officials at various briefings ahead of the Summit.

During the run up to the Summit, Pakistan participated closely in the negotiations of the outcome documents which were adopted at the Summit. These include a leaders Communiqui and associated action plans in support of various international organizations and initiatives to provide guidelines for future work.