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Pakistan and India Agree to Warn of Missile Tests


Pakistan and India have agreed to give each other advance notice of ballistic missile tests to reduce risks of an accidental war between the nuclear-capable rival nations. They also have signed another agreement to set up a hotline between their coast guards. The two countries announced the agreements on security cooperation following talks between their foreign ministers in Islamabad.

I ndian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri have opened a two-day meeting in Islamabad to review progress made in their 21-month peace dialogue, which is aimed at settling outstanding disputes.

A spokesman for the Indian delegation, Shayam Saran, says the talks are progressing well, as the two countries have signed agreements on advance warning of ballistic missile tests and on a hotline between coast guards of India and Pakistan.

But Mr. Saran says that progress on the long-running Kashmir dispute is likely to take more time.

"This phase of our interaction and dialogue is less than two years old. We are dealing here with a very complicated legacy and it requires patience, it requires mutual trust and understanding for us to be able to make progress on this so that we can find a mutually acceptable solution to this issue," he said.

India and Pakistan have gone to war three times since gaining independence from Britain in 1947. Tensions over Kashmir caused two of the three wars and they nearly fought another war over the region in 2002 before launching the peace process.

While progress on Kashmir has been exceptionally slow, the two countries have reached agreement in several other areas including the restoration of transport links between the Indian and Pakistani-controlled portions of Kashmir.

Both India and Pakistan claim the Muslim-majority region, divided by a cease-fire line, the result of their first war over Kashmir. India wants Pakistan to do more to stop Islamic militants slipping into Indian Kashmir from the Pakistani side, calling it "cross-border terrorism"

Pakistan denies any such illegal movement is taking place in Kashmir.

Indian foreign minister Singh is expected to meet Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday and revive a joint commission for promoting economic cooperation that has not met for 16 years.

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