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Tit-For-Tat Missile Test

Three days after a similar trial by India, Pakistan on Wednesday test-fired a missile that could potentially carry a nuclear bomb to any part of its arch-foe's territory.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told reporters at Gwadur coastal town, close to where the missile landed Wednesday morning, that the Ghauri-II missile's range was 1,250 miles.

It was the first official confirmation that Pakistan had tested an upgraded version of the Ghauri missile, which it first test-fired exactly one year ago with a range of 930 miles.

The trial was carried out after India test-fired its own Agni-II missile and despite Western appeals to avoid accelerating an arms race in South Asia.

The governments of both Pakistan and India tried to ease concerns of a weapons buildup.

"Pakistan does not want a nuclear and missile race in South Asia," said a statement issued by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry after the test.

"There is no arms race in South Asia," said Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh.

The range of the modified weapon put all major cities in India within range of Pakistan's military.

Sharif said Ghauri-II, fired from a site near Jhelum in Punjab province, flew for 12 minutes and hit a target near Jiwani, a coastal town in the sparsely populated Baluchistan province, site of last May's nuclear tests by Pakistan.

The official announcement in Islamabad said the weapon showed Pakistan's "determination to defend itself, strengthen national security" and to consolidate the strategic balance reached when Pakistan matched India's nuclear tests last May.

"According to the data collected from the test, all design parameters were validated," it said.

The trial underlined that, despite recent improvements in relations strained by three wars in 50 years, the two countries stood by the tit-for-tat diplomacy that has characterized ties since independence from Britain in 1947.

India's test Sunday sparked renewed international concerns. Its nuclear-capable Agni-II missile has a planned range of 1,370 miles, which could carry a warhead into any part of Pakistan and into China.

Western states, led by the United States, urged Pakistan to show restraint after India's test to avoid accelerating an arms race.

But the nations informed each other in advance of their tests, in keeping with an agreement reached in Lahore in February when India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Sharif held border talks to ease tension.

"We had also informed all immediate neighbors," the official announcement said.

Islamabad strenuously denied reports that the weapon had links to missile technology of North Korea or China, with which it has very close relations.

News of an imminent flexing of military muscle depressed an already gloomy Karachi stock market because investors fear that the tests could deter investment and sap the willingness of foreign donors to suppot Pakistan's fragile economy.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report