US seeks de-escalation of tensions, calls Uri attack ‘horrific’

Washington : Following the Indian Army’s surgical strikes against terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, the US has called for steps to avoid escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan and described the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an army camp in Jamuu and Kashmir as “horrific”.

“Our message to both sides has been the same, in terms of encouraging them to increase communication to deal with this threat and to avoid steps that escalate the tensions,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in the daily press briefing on Thursday.

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“I think I’m not going to get into characterising each and every step along the way there,” he said.

“But obviously, what we want to see is increased cooperation against what is a very shared common threat for both countries, and to see steps being taken to deal with it by all sides.”

The Indian Army on Wednesday night carried out surgical strikes across the LoC on terror launch pads inflicting “significant casualties”, according to the Indian Army’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh.

This action came after the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an Indian Army garrison at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 19 soldiers.

India has blamed the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack.

“…Obviously an attack like that (at Uri) escalates tensions,” Kirby said.

“But what I don’t want to do is try to get into some sort of broad characterisation, one way or the other. But obviously an attack like this is horrific.”

Stating that the US was following the situation closely, Kirby said: “We also understand that the Indian and Pakistani militaries have been in communication. We believe that continued communication is obviously important to reduce tensions.”

In a media briefing on Thursday in New Delhi following the operations on Wednesday, DGMO Singh said he had shared the details of the action against the terrorists with his Pakistani counterpart.

He said that “we expect the Pakistani army to cooperate with us with a view to erase this menace of terrorism from our region”.

“We believe that continued communication is obviously important to reduce tensions,” Kirby said in his media briefing on Thursday.

Stating that terrorism knew no borders, he said in an obvious reference to the Pakistani establishment: “We continue to urge actions to combat and delegitimise terrorist groups like LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) and the Haqqani Network, Jaish-e-Mohammed.”

Asked what the US and India were doing in combating terrorism following the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue between the two sides last month, he said that “we are always trying to get better at combating terrorism in the region”.

“And there are many ways you can do that — through information-sharing regimens and increasing, like we said, increasing communication between all parties involved,” Kirby said.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Richard Verma, who was in the US, is returning to India in the wake of the Indian Army’s strikes across the LoC.

Kirby said Verma rescheduled an event he was to attend at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and would be returning to New Delhi.

“He (Verma) did have to reschedule his event at the Wilson Center and, as far as I know, he’s returning to New Delhi,” Kirby said.

“My understanding is that he believed that it was appropriate for him to go back,” he said.

“And I mean, he’s a — he’s got a big job, there’s a lot of responsibilities that come with it, and obviously it’s a very dynamic situation, and he felt it was prudent to go back.”