Pakistan missile 'can hit most cities in India'

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Pakistan said today that it successfully test-fired a medium-range, nuclear-capable missile that could hit most cities in neighbouring India, but defence officials said the exercise was not intended as a message to the South Asian rival.

Pakistan said today that it successfully test-fired a medium-range, nuclear-capable missile that could hit most cities in neighbouring India, but defence officials said the exercise was not intended as a message to the South Asian rival.

"The new version of the Ghauri V missile, which was test-fired today, has a range of 1,500 kilometres (930 miles), and can hit most cities in India," a senior defence official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Pakistani authorities had informed India and other neighbouring countries beforehand about the test, and that it was not aimed at inflaming tensions in South Asia.

The defence official said Islamabad was not sending "any wrong signal to India" by test-firing the missile at a time when the two nations are pursuing peace talks aimed at resolving more than a half-century of tensions.

Pakistan's military released a statement confirming there had been a successful test - part of a planned series of such tests - of the Ghauri V missile and that it showed the weapon is "based on the highest standards of scientific and superior technology advancement."

The statement gave no information about where the missile was fired.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and other civilian and military dignitaries witnessed the launch ceremony, the statement said.

Pakistan became a declared nuclear power on 28 May, 1998, when it conducted underground nuclear tests, in response to earlier tests carried out by India.

The two countries have a history of bitter relations and have fought three wars - two of them over the Himalayan territory of Kashmir - since independence from Britain in 1947.

Since coming to the brink of a fourth conflict in 2001, relations have thawed and leaders from both South Asian countries have started peace talks.

India's new prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and Pakistani President Gen Pervez Musharraf met on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting last month in New York, where they agreed to continue efforts to resolve all of their countries' issues, including Kashmir.

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