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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Pakistan tests short-range missile
Pakistan-made Hatf series missiles
Missile tests are often used to score diplomatic points
Pakistan says it has test-fired a short-range missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

A military spokesman said the test of the surface-to-surface Hatf III Ghaznavi ballistic missile was a success.

In 1998, Pakistan and India conducted a series of tit-for-tat tests on nuclear weapons, leading to sanctions by the international community.

Friday's test comes as relations between the two countries appeared to have cooled after a breakthrough in April.

The missile test is Pakistan's second this year, and the first in a series in the coming days, a spokesman said.

There is nothing special about it
Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes
India has conducted several missile tests this year.

"The timings of the tests reflect Pakistan's determination not to engage in a tit-for-tat syndrome to other tests in the region," an army statement said.

"Pakistan will maintain the pace of its own missile development programme and conduct tests as per its technical needs."

India dismissed the test as nothing new.

"There is nothing special about it," Defence Minister George Fernandes told the Press Trust of India.

The Hatf III missile is reported to have a range of 290 kilometres (180 miles).

The authorities in Pakistan say neighbouring countries were informed in advance of the test.

Bitter exchange

The test also comes as Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali is in the middle of a visit to the United States.

Indian security force member in Jammu and Kashmir
Two wars have been fought over Kashmir

On Wednesday, he met US President George W Bush and the two sides are said to have discussed the war on terrorism and the Kashmir conflict among other issues.

In September, the sides exchanged heated rhetoric while attending the UN General Assembly, which was seen as a fresh blow to peace prospects.

Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf, accused India of refusing to enter a dialogue over Kashmir, which he called the world's most dangerous dispute - a reference to the nuclear weapons both countries possess.

But Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee repeated India's line that it would only hold talks with Pakistan when "cross-border terrorism" had ended.

India accuses Pakistan of arming, training and funding the rebels.

Pakistan says it provides only moral and diplomatic support to "freedom fighters", and accuses India of gross human rights abuses in Kashmir.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir and came close to a major conflict centred around the territory last year.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Zaffer Abbas in Islamabad
"They are building missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads"



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