India, Pakistan Reach Pact on Missile Tests

Longtime foes India (search) and Pakistan (search) formally agreed Saturday to inform each other about planned missile tests and set up a hot line by September to lessen the chances for accidental war between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

The agreements were announced after two days of talks, the third such round since the two South Asian nations started a peace dialogue last year in an attempt to ease almost six decades of bitter tensions that have produced three wars.

"The two sides reached an understanding on the proposed agreement on pre-notification of flight testing of ballistic missiles," a joint statement said.

That will put in writing an understanding that has seen defense officials from the two sides informally share such information since 1999, Indian military officials have said.

The joint statement said both nations stressed the need for early inauguration of a nuclear hot line between their foreign secretaries.

It said experts had discussed technical aspects and testing schedules for the link, which is planned to go into operation in September "to prevent misunderstandings and reduce risks relevant to nuclear issues."

India and Pakistan both tested nuclear weapons in 1998, provoking economic sanctions from the United States and other countries. The sanctions have been progressively lifted over the years.

Relations have warmed considerably in recent months, but the two countries have made little progress in resolving their competing claims to the Himalayan territory of Kashmir (search) — the dispute at the heart of their rivalry.

The nuclear talks are to be followed with discussions Monday on reducing tensions related to conventional armaments.