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Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Monday, 3 October 2005 13:31 UK

S Asia rivals sign security deals

Natwar Singh (left) and Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri after holding talks
Natwar Singh (left) and Khurshid Kasuri after holding talks

India and Pakistan have signed two security co-operation accords during talks between their foreign ministers.

The agreements include a deal promising advance warning of ballistic missile tests and another setting up a hotline between coastguards.

Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh is in Pakistan for four days of talks to review peace moves begun in early 2004.

Officials say the deals are a sign of progress. A breakthrough on the key Kashmir dispute is not expected.

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Monday's accords were announced after talks between Mr Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Khurshid Kasuri, in Islamabad.

An official statement said India had also presented a draft agreement on measures to reduce the risks of accidental use of nuclear weapons.

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says the accords should allow for greater co-operation between the militaries of India and Pakistan.

Flight tests

The missile warning accord requires the two countries to notify each other before taking flight tests of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.

The agreement entails that both countries provide each other advance notification of flight tests that it intends to undertake of any surface-to-surface ballistic missile
Joint statement

The other agreement sets up a communication link between the rivals' maritime forces, which is expected to help coastguards deal with fishermen who stray into each other's territorial waters.

Both foreign ministers said the agreements signed were evidence of progress in the peace process.

Analysts, however, expected no major breakthroughs during Mr Singh's visit.

Our correspondent says so far the peace process has not seriously tackled the status of the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir which both sides claim.

Mr Singh is expected to meet Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz during his four-day visit.

His trip follows a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gen Musharraf on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month.

'Bus diplomacy'

The two countries have agreed to open a new bus route across their Punjab border, starting from next month.

The "bus diplomacy" is part of the bilateral peace process the nations have pursued for nearly two years.

The current cross-Kashmir bus service
The landmark cross-Kashmir bus service began in April

Separate talks on improving aviation links have made little progress. The two sides are also discussing ways to improve travel arrangements for pilgrims from the two countries.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since 1947 over the Himalayan territory.

The conflict is believed to have claimed more than 40,000 lives.

India accuses Pakistan of training, arming and funding Islamic militancy in the region.

Pakistan strongly denies the charge but admits extending "moral, political and diplomatic support" to Kashmiris seeking independence from India.

video and audio news
Footage of the testing of ballistic missiles



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