The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nuclear trust passes a test

New Delhi, Aug. 6: India and Pakistan will formalise an agreement to inform each other before testing ballistic missiles, putting in place a nuclear confidence-building measure that seeks to breathe fresh life into the peace process.

The two sides will also reactivate a hotline between foreign secretaries to “prevent misunderstandings”. The line, snapped around 10 years ago, is expected to kick back to life by September.

The prior notification of missile tests in itself is a modest accomplishment ' an informal and non-binding arrangement already exists.

But the fact that today’s round of nuclear confidence-building talks here did not end without result as two earlier ones shows that there is some forward movement in the complex bilateral peace process.

The deal between teams led by officials also complements India’s effort to tell the world that it is a responsible nuclear power, close on the heels of such a certificate from the US.

The draft agreement on missile information will be put before the foreign secretaries for final approval.

Once the agreement is formalised, alerts have to be issued three to five days in advance, not at the eleventh hour as is often done now.

The minimum distance of the test sites from the borders ' the thorny issue that stalled a deal earlier -- will be specified in the agreement.

India has submitted a draft on the need for national measures for unauthorised or accidental use of nuclear weapons. The visitors said they would study the proposal and respond later.

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