United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he is hopeful that the United States will be able to play a part in de-escalating tensions between India and Pakistan.
Pompeo was talking to reporters in the Philippine capital on his way back from the second summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.
The US secretary of state said that the US “was and will continue to be engaged with the issue between India and Pakistan”.
“I spent a good deal of time on the phone last night talking to leaders in both countries, making sure there was good information exchanged, encouraging each country to not take any action that would escalate and create increased risk,” he added.
“I had good conversations, and I am hopeful that we can take down the tension there, at least for the time being, so they can begin to have conversations that don’t portend risk of escalation to either of the two countries”, he asserted while sharing that the US was “working hard” on resolving the conflict.
Earlier, United States President Donald Trump said that “reasonably attractive news” has been received from Pakistan and India and hoped that escalation between the two countries “will be coming to an end”.
The White House had earlier condemned the intensifying conflict and urged “both sides to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.”
“The potential risks associated with further military action by either side are unacceptably high for both countries, their neighbours and the international community,” a National Security Council official said on the condition of anonymity.
Tensions have been elevated since a suicide car bombing by militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police on Feb. 14, but the risk of conflict rose dramatically on Tuesday when India launched an air strike on what it said was a militant training base.
The attack targeted the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant, the group that claimed credit for the suicide attack. But while India said a large number of JeM fighters had been killed, Pakistani officials said the Indian airstrike was a failure and inflicted no casualties.
Subsequently, Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian jets on Wednesday, the Pakistani military spokesman said. Indian air force planes strayed into Pakistani airspace on Wednesday after Pakistan had carried out airstrikes in Indian-occupied Kashmir, said Major General Asif Ghafoor, a spokesman for the Pakistan armed forces.
“Today’s action was in self defence; we don’t want to claim any victory. The way we set out targets and made sure that there was no collateral damage; the in-built message was that despite out capability, we look towards peace,” said the army spokesperson.
“Today morning, Pakistan Air Force engaged with six targets at the LoC. Because we are a responsible state and want peace, we decided that we will not use any military target.
“As a result of engaging our target, no human life was affected. Staying within our jurisdiction, six targets were locked. And we carried out the strike,” said the army spokesperson.
“Pakistan is not pushing the environment towards war,” he made it clear, adding Pakistan deliberately avoided escalation. “If that were the case, we could have easily engaged the target, which our Air Force had locked. That would have resulted in human casualties and collateral damage as well.
“We engaged a nearby open space where there were no human lives or military posts. We deliberately avoided the escalation. We only wanted to demonstrate that we could have easily taken the original target, which was their administrative setup and military post. But we did not do that.”