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Exercise ‘maximum restraint’: Int’l community

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Srinagar, Feb 26: In the face of escalated tensions between India and Pakistan, various countries urged the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours to exercise “maximum restraint”.

“We remain in contact with both countries and what we believe is essential is that all exercise maximum restraint and avoid further escalation of tensions,” Europen Union spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters.

India said its warplanes attacked a militant camp where Pakista-backed fighters were preparing suicide attacks on its cities, killing a “very large number” of militants from the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group.

Pakistani officials have confirmed Indian planes breached its airspace and dropped a payload over Balakot in the country’s northwest, condemning it as “uncalled for aggression” but insisting there was no damage or casualties.

China on Tuesday urged India and Pakistan to “exercise restraint” and asked New Delhi to carry out its fight against terrorism through international cooperation.

When asked for China’s response to India’s air strikes on militant camps in Pakistan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told the media that “we have taken note of the relevant reports.”

“I want to say that India and Pakistan are both important countries in South Asia. A sound relationship and cooperation between the two serves the interests of both the countries and peace and stability in South Asia,” he said.

“We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and do more to improve their bilateral relations,” he said.

On India’s assertion that its air assault inside Pakistan was a “non-military pre-emptive strikes directed against training camps of the terrorist groups who are carrying out violent acts in India,” Lu said, “as for India’s claim on taking action against terrorism, well fighting terrorism is a global practice”.

“It needs necessary international cooperation. India needs to create favourable condition internationally for the same,” he said.

To another question, he said Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Muhammad Qureshi has spoken to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the Pulwama suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir.

“During the phone call, Wang listened carefully to Pakistan foreign minister’s notification and proposals on the issues and reaffirmed his opinion that the two sides need to advance their cooperation in the counter-terrorism for peace and stability in the region,” the spokesman said.

Lu’s comments came ahead of Russia, India and China (RIC) Foreign Ministers’ meeting at Chinese city of Wuzhen on Wednesday in which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is due to take part.

The UK government Tuesday urged India and Pakistan to avoid taking action that will pose a risk to regional stability and said it was working with international partners to ensure that those responsible for the Pulwama attack are held to account.

In its latest statement, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said it was engaged in talks with both sides.

“We are concerned by rising tensions. We are encouraging both sides to avoid taking action that will pose a risk to regional stability,” an FCO spokesperson said.

“The UK is working closely with international partners, including in the United Nations Security Council, to ensure that those responsible for the Pulwama attack are held to account,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier, the FCO said in a statement, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt held telephonic conversations with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday.

“The Foreign Secretary highlighted the UK’s concern about the enduring threat to regional stability from terrorism.

“He encouraged Pakistan and India to improve cooperation and find diplomatic solutions that will create greater stability and trust in the region,” the FCO said hours before Indian fighter jets struck inside Pakistan.

“Australia urges both sides to exercise restraint, avoid any action which would endanger peace and security in the region and engage in dialogue to ensure that these issues are resolved peacefully,” the Australian Foreign Ministry said.

The statement was released by the Australian Embassy in New Delhi.

It said Pakistan must take urgent and meaningful action against “terrorist groups in its territory, including Jaish-e-Mohammed”, which has claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide attack in Pulwama, and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“Pakistan must do everything possible to implement its own proscription of Jaish-e-Mohammed. It can no longer allow extremist groups the legal and physical space to operate from its territory,” the Australian Foreign Ministry said.

“These steps would make a substantial contribution to easing tensions and resolving the underlying causes of conflict,” it said.

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