India, Pakistan in nuclear deal

India and Pakistan have formally agreed to inform each other about planned missile tests and to set up a hot line next month to prevent accidental nuclear conflict, a joint statement has said.

    Both sides have been informally sharing missile testing information

    The agreements were announced in New Delhi on Saturday after two days of talks, the third such round between the nuclear-armed neighbours, who started a peace dialogue last year to try easing almost six decades of bitter tensions.

     "The two sides reached an understanding on the proposed agreement on pre-notification of flight testing of ballistic missiles," Saturday's joint statement said.

     

    Defence officials from both sides have been informally sharing such information since 1999, Indian military officials say.

     

    India-Pakistan relations have warmed considerably in recent months. But the two sides have made little progress towards resolving their competing claims to the Himalayan territory of Kashmir - the dispute at the heart of their rivalry.

     

    Earlier rounds of nuclear talks were held in June and December last year.

     

    The hot line "to prevent misunderstandings and reduce risks relevant to nuclear issues ... will be established in September 2005"

    India-Pakistan joint statement

    The latest nuclear-related measures were scheduled to be followed on Monday by talks on conventional confidence-building measures, India's Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna had told reporters on Thursday.

     

    Saturday's joint statement said that both sides stressed the need for early operation of a nuclear hot line between foreign secretaries on both sides, and that experts had discussed the line's technical aspects and testing schedules.

     

    The hot line "to prevent misunderstandings and reduce risks relevant to nuclear issues ... will be established in September 2005," the statement said.

     

    India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in 1998, provoking economic sanctions from the United States and other countries. The sanctions have been progressively lifted over the years.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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