Trump hints at de-escalation between India, Pakistan as US mediates


–US president says ‘reasonably decent news’ has been received from Pakistan and India, hopes escalation ‘will come to an end’


HANOI: United States President Donald Trump on Thursday 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”.

Addressing a news conference in Hanoi after a meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the US president opened his remarks by discussing the situation with India and Pakistan. “We have I think reasonably attractive news from Pakistan and India,” he said.

“They have been going at it and we have been involved in trying to have them stop and we have some reasonably decent news hopefully that will be coming to an end. It has been going on for a long time for decades and decades. There is a lot of dislike unfortunately so we have been in the middle trying to help them both out, see if we can get some organisation and some peace. And I think that is probably going to be happening,” the US president said.

Hours later, Prime Minister Imran Khan told the joint session of the parliament that the government has decided to release the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, on Friday as the first step towards talks with India.

Earlier today, in a statement issued by the Pentagon, Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said that he had spoken with senior US military officials about the situation. “Acting Secretary Shanahan’s focus is on de-escalating tensions and urging both of the nations to avoid further military action,” the statement added.

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 between Pakistan and India have heightened after New Delhi, without any proof, had blamed Pakistan for harbouring terrorists behind the Pulwama attack. PM Khan, in response, called for dialogue and urged India to provide actionable intelligence.

On Tuesday, Indian military aircraft had violated the Line of Control (LoC) as they “intruded” from the Muzaffarabad sector and were forced to return owing to the timely response of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

Pakistan on Wednesday confirmed it had shot down two Indian aircraft which had crossed over LoC and had taken one Indian pilot in custody.

PM Khan on Wednesday once again invited India for talks, stressing “better sense should prevail.”

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Asif Ghafoor also called on the international community to play its role. “Pakistan is sending a message of peace and they [international community] should also come forward and see how the environment between Pakistan and India is a threat to peace and development not only to the two countries but the region and beyond,” the ISPR DG said.