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US urges Pakistan, India to take steps to defuse tensions

WASHINGTON: Cautioning that further military activity will exacerbate the situation between Pakistan and India, the US State Department urged both the sides to continue taking steps to defuse tensions.

“The position of the United States is we continue to urge both sides to continue to take steps to de-escalate the situation, and that includes through direct communication,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino told a briefing.

He was responding to a question about the US assessment of the situation between the two countries and efforts made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in calming the situation.

The spokesman said: “We believe strongly that further military activity will exacerbate the situation.”

He said the US secretary led diplomatic engagement directly, which played an essential role in de-escalating the tensions between the two sides.

“He spoke with leaders in both countries, and that included the Indian Minister of External Affairs [Sushma] Swaraj, National Security Advisor [Ajit] Doval, and Pakistani Foreign Minister [Shah Mahmood] Qureshi.”

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Palladino said the US was in touch with both the countries via the US embassies in New Delhi and Islamabad as well as with the Indian and Pakistani embassies here in Washington.

About peace talks with Taliban, he said these talks were ongoing. “Special Representative [for Afghanistan] Zalmay Khalilzad was engaging on this on a daily basis right now, and progress is being made. More work to be done, obviously, but we’ll stay focused on that.”



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