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US urges Pakistan, India to hold direct talks

Updated May 03, 2017

WASHINGTON: The United States urged Pakistan and India on Tuesday to engage in direct talks for reducing tensions, as sabre-rattling along the Line of Control alarmed world capitals.

“We encourage India and Pakistan to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions,” a spokesperson for the US State Department told Dawn. “We believe India and Pakistan stand to benefit from practical cooperation.”

India claims that on Monday Pakistani soldiers killed two members of an army patrol in Kashmir and later mutilated their bodies.

The Pakistan Army has strongly refuted the Indian allegation, saying that there had been no ceasefire violation or crossing of the LoC by Pakistani troops, so the mutilation was not possible.

But the Indian media reported that Indian troops had already started “firing mortar bombs and grenades across the border” to avenge the alleged deaths. Indian Union Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters in New Delhi that “the army will respond appropriately”.

The Indian army chief, Gen Bipin Rawat, rushed to Srinagar on Monday evening to “supervise the response,” the Indian media reported.

Indian opposition parties have also urged their government “to punish Pakistan”, the reports added.

Reports in the US media said that since Monday, Pakistani and Indian directors general for military operation were maintaining regular contacts to contain tensions.

When asked for comments on these efforts, the State Department spokesperson said: “We have seen these reports. We refer you to the governments of India and Pakistan for further information.”

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2017