Thu, Mar 23, 2017 | updated 11:53 PM IST

Continued communication between India-Pak important to reduce tensions: U.S.

Updated: Sep 30, 2016 09:25 IST

Washington, DC [United States], Sept. 30 (ANI): Asserting that Washington is following the situation closely over the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army on terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC), US State Department spokesperson, John Kirby said that his country understands that Indian and Pakistani militaries have been in communication and believe that continued communication is obviously important to reduce tensions.

Speaking at the daily press briefing, Kirby maintained that the US continues to urge actions to combat and delegitimize terrorist groups.

"We've repeatedly expressed our concerns regarding the danger that terrorism poses to the region. And we all know that terrorism, in many ways, knows no border. We continue to urge actions to combat and delegitimize terrorist groups like LeT and the Haqqani Network, Jaish-e-Mohammad. So this is something that we're obviously keenly focused on," Kirby said.

On being asked if there prior consultation between the United States and India before the surgical strikes, the spokesperson replied, "I can confirm for you that the Secretary[John Kerry] spoke with the - on the 27th, so earlier this week, with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and reiterated his strong condemnation of the September 18th Uri attack. He condemned terrorism in all its forms and he cautioned against any escalation in tensions."

Responding to the question on what specific steps have been taken to strengthen cooperation on fighting terrorism between New Delhi and Washington over the second U.S. and India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue held last month, Kirby said, "We're always trying to get better at combatting 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."

When asked that Secretary Kerry had cautioned against escalation and was the surgical attack an escalation, Kirby said that he is not going to characterize it and instead called the Uri attack "horrific".

Kirby maintained that Washington wants to see increased cooperation against shared common threat for both India and Pakistan.

"Well, look, again, we - 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.. 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," he added.

On being asked that there is a strong coordination between India and the U.S. on counterterrorism issues and was there any coordination on surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army, Kirby replied, "I just don't have anything for you on that. And as you know, I don't talk about the specifics of military matters."

Kirby declined to comment when asked if Kerry got any indication that India was going ahead with the strike when he spoke to Swaraj.

He, whoever, said that he has seen reports of two calls, adding, "There was a technical issue on the first call, so they had to arrange a second call to complete it. So was there two calls? Yes, there were two calls, but it was really one conversation."

On being asked if Ambassador Richard Verma who had to rushed back to Delhi was carrying any message from the Secretary or from the state building, Kirby said, "My understanding is that he believed that it was appropriate for him to go back. 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."

When asked if he has any message for Pakistan after the reporter quoted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks that "Pakistan is supporting terrorism, India is supporting ITs, engineers, and doctors around the globe and that Pakistan still has camps inside its country who are attacking India, Kirby replied, "I mean, we understand that both militaries are in communication; we encourage that We've expressed repeatedly our concerns about the danger of terrorism, cross-border terrorism, as well, in the region, and we continue to urge actions to combat and de-legitimize groups like LeT and the Haqqani Network and Jaish-e-Mohammad."

Also when asked that about the India-US relationship, Kirby said that Washington remains deeply committed to the bilateral relationship with India and to advancing it on - across virtually all sectors of public and private enterprise.

The Indian Army conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC on Wednesday night.

Speaking to media yesterday, Director General of Military Operations Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said, the motive of the operation was to hit out at the terrorists who were planning to infiltrate into the Indian territory.

Lt General Singh informed that significant casualty was caused to terrorists during the operation. (ANI)

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