India and Pakistan agree pact on missiles

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The Independent Online

India and Pakistan agreed yesterday to notify each other before testing missiles, to open consulates and to work toward settling their competing claims over Kashmir. The agreements are part of a peace process that began last year.

India and Pakistan agreed yesterday to notify each other before testing missiles, to open consulates and to work toward settling their competing claims over Kashmir. The agreements are part of a peace process that began last year.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman, Masood Khan, said: "There is a new spirit of engaging consistently and substantively. You have to satisfy all the parties: that is the understanding that is emerging."

The Indian External Affairs Minister, Natwar Singh, said there had been "positive discussions and concrete outcomes" from six hours of talks on Sunday and yesterday between the Pakistani Foreign Secretary, Riaz Khokhar, and his Indian counterpart, Shashank.

Brahma Chellaney, a defence analyst, said the two countries had been abiding by an informal agreement to notify each other at least 24 hours ahead of a missile test launch, but India sought a formal pact that would commit each side to specify the size of the missile and location of the test.

India and Pakistan will also open consulates in Karachi and Bombay, and restore their embassies to full strength. Staff numbers were reduced after an attack by militants on India's parliament in December 2001.

The states also agreed to free fishermen seized in each other's territorial waters and to work out ways to release other civilian prisoners, they said.

More meetings are scheduled in July and August.

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