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Pakistan Condemns India-Russia Cooperation on Missile - 2002-04-29

Pakistan on Monday condemned India's successful test-firing of a supersonic cruise missile and also criticized Russia for helping India develop the missile and carry out the test.

The BrahMos missile that can fly at a height of 14 kilometers and travel at twice the speed of sound was strongly criticized by Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Khan, who said "the introduction of this new weapons system will aggravate the existing imbalance in the region and further encourage India in its hegemonic designs."

Mr. Khan also had strong words for Russia which helped India develop the missile saying Moscow's cooperation with New Delhi was in violation of international accords regulating the spread of missile technology.

Pakistan has been accused of developing similar weapons technology with assistance from Chinese authorities, something Islamabad and Beijing deny.

Mr. Khan refused to say whether Pakistan will carry out a reciprocal missile test saying only that Islamabad reserves its right to respond to any threats to its territory.

"We will take all necessary steps to ensure strong defense capability to deter any aggressive designs against our sovereignty and territorial integrity," said Mr. Khan.

Tensions between South Asia's two nuclear neighbors have been high for months. In December India accused Pakistan of supporting two militant groups New Delhi says carried out a terrorist attack against the Indian parliament. A crackdown on Islamic militant groups based in Pakistan by Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf eased the friction somewhat earlier this year.

The two countries have mobilized close to a million troops along their common border. Speaking Monday in Islamabad, Aziz Khan said tensions on the border remain high.