Pakistan successfully test fired a medium-range nuclear-capable missile Friday for the second time in a week, but officials denied that any message was being sent to neighboring India's new government.
The new version of the Ghauri V missile has a range of 932 miles and can hit most cities in northern India, Pakistan's nuclear-armed rival, which was informed beforehand about the launch, government and defense officials said.
The launch was described as part of routine testing to improve Pakistan's missiles. Pakistan successfully test fired the same model of missile May 28.
"These tests are conducted periodically to validate our ballistic missiles' tactical parameters. They should have no impact on the ongoing dialogue process," Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan told The Associated Press.
"It is not deliberate or intentional in the sense that the tests have been conducted after the recent political transition in New Delhi," Khan said.
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf witnessed the test, carried out at an undisclosed location, and stressed that Pakistan's nuclear weapons and missile program "was righty seen as the cornerstone of the nation's security policy," a military statement said.
"The president said that the test was not intended to send any political signals outside the country but was necessary for validation of technical parameters," the statement said.
Pakistan is expected this month to test its longest-range missile, called the Ghauri III. With a range of 2,175 miles, it could hit virtually any target in India.
The neighbors launched a historic peace dialogue earlier this year but have been finding new diplomatic footing since the Congress party returned to power in India last month. Both have stressed friendly intentions and are slated to hold nuclear talks June 19-20.
Their foreign secretaries will hold separate talks June 27-28 to discuss the dispute over Kashmir, the divided Himalayan territory that has been the cause of two of three wars between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri criticized his counterpart Natwar Singh earlier this week for making comments on bilateral relations in the Indian press and the two agreed in a telephone conversation Thursday to speak personally, not through the media.
A statement released by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry stressed that they spoke "very warmly and optimistically about the future of Pakistan-India relations."
Pakistan became a declared nuclear power on May 28, 1998, when it conducted underground nuclear tests in response to earlier tests carried out by India.