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Wednesday Mar 06 2019

UN chief again urges India and Pakistan to defuse tensions

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks in Kiev, Ukraine, July 9, 2017. Photo: Reuters 

NEW YORK: United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday reiterated his call to Pakistan and India to “de-escalate the tensions” between them as the situation in the region continues to pose threat to peace and security.

“We are fully aware of the situation,” Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in reply to a question at the regular noon briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.

The spokesman further said the UN chief was in touch with both sides at various levels to “express his concern and the need to do as much as anyone can to de-escalate the tensions.”

However, he added the secretary-general had not yet spoken to the prime ministers of the two countries — Imran Khan and Narendra Modi — “as far as I am aware.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, continued her contacts with key UN officials and diplomats here, stressing the need for lowering the tensions between India and Pakistan and the resolution of outstanding problems through dialogue.

Tensions between Pakistan and India have heightened after New Delhi without any proof blamed Pakistan for harbouring terrorists behind the February 14, Pulwama attack. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in response called for dialogue and urged India to provide actionable intelligence.

On February 26, Indian military aircraft violated the Line of Control (LoC) as they "intruded" from the Muzaffarabad sector but were forced to return owing to the timely response of the Pakistan Air Force.

Pakistan on February 27, confirmed it had shot down two Indian aircraft which had crossed over the LoC and taken one Indian pilot in custody, who was later released as a "peace gesture" towards New Delhi.

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