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Pakistan Missile Test Not Alarming: US State Dept

File photo of a Pakistani Hatf series missile test.

Washington (AFP) Aug 11, 2005
Pakistan's first cruise missile test was conducted in a way that was not provocative, a US State Department spokesman said Thursday, although Pakistan did not give advance warning to rival India.

"It's important to us that actions by states on the subcontinent are done in ways that aren't provocative, in ways that aren't threatening. I think that by all accounts that test met that criteria," deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters at a briefing here.

"My understanding was that it was done in a way that was not alarming, it was not a surprise. But I'd leave it to the two parties to speak further to that since it involves them directly," he said.

Asked if the United States believes Pakistan got foreign assistance with the missile, perhaps from China, Ereli said there was "nothing that I have to share with you on that score."

Pakistan successfully test-fired its first cruise missile on Thursday, joining a select club of nations which have developed the ground-hugging projectiles, its military said.

Military ruler President Pervez Musharraf hailed the launch of the Hatf VII Babur, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads, as a "major milestone" in the country's defence programme, an army statement said.

Pakistan did not give advance warning to rival India, despite a deal made at the weekend between the two countries to notify each other before missile tests and to set up a hotline to prevent an accidental atomic exchange.

The agreement only refers to ballistic missiles and not to cruise missiles, Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Muhammad Naeem Khan told AFP.

India unveiled its first cruise missile, a supersonic joint venture with Russia named the BrahMos, in 2001. There was no immediate reaction from New Delhi to Thursday's test.

Pakistan and India conducted tit-for-tat test nuclear detonations in 1998 and came to the brink of war in 2002. The historical rivals, who have already fought three wars, routinely carry out tests of nuclear-capable missiles.

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