UN boss urges Pak, India to keep up 'positive momentum' post-Abhinandan release

Guterres' 'good offices remain available should both sides agree', according to his deputy spokesperson

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres takes part in a news conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York, US, June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called on Pakistan and India to maintain the "positive momentum" generated after Pakistani authorities released captured Indian fighter pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.

Guterres also urged the two neighbouring nations to hold talks to de-escalate the tensions between them, saying his "good offices remain available should both sides agree", his deputy spokesperson, Farhan Aziz Haq, said in a statement.

"We welcome the news of the Pakistani authorities releasing the captive Indian pilot today," he said, referring to the release of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan, whose warplane was shot down by Pakistani jets on Wednesday.

The decision to free the Indian pilot was announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday as a "peace gesture" towards India — a move welcomed by leaders around the world.

"The Secretary-General calls on both parties to sustain this positive momentum and engage in further constructive dialogue," the United Nations chief's spokesperson.