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Pakistan, India Sign Security Measures

October 04, 2005|Mubashir Zaidi | Special to The Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India signed two security agreements Monday, including one to give each other notice of ballistic missile tests.

The deals were the latest measures intended to build confidence between the two nations as they try to resolve their core dispute over the divided territory of Kashmir.

The countries' foreign secretaries, who are senior civil servants under Pakistani Foreign Minister Mian Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri and Indian External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh, signed the pacts after the two ministers met here.

India and Pakistan agreed to provide each other with advance notification of tests of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.

Both countries have been conducting tests regularly over the last five years.

The countries came close to war in 2003, but President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have committed their governments to peaceful resolution of their disputes.

This year, they opened the cease-fire line dividing Kashmir to carefully controlled tourist traffic and trade. But there has been no significant progress toward resolving their rival claims to the territory.

Monday's agreements were signed after three rounds of talks in the last two years.

The neighbors also agreed to establish communication links between maritime agencies, which often arrest hundreds of poor fishermen and impound their boats on charges of illegal fishing in each other's territorial waters. There is no demarcation of a boundary to separate their territorial waters in the Arabian Sea.

The two sides agreed to an early exchange of information regarding apprehended fishermen. Lengthy detentions of fishermen often make headlines in both countries, stirring up public resentment.

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