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BEIJING / BRUSSELS: China and the European Union urged India and Pakistan on Tuesday to “exercise restraint” after New Delhi said its warplanes attacked a militant camp in Pakistan, in a move that sent tensions soaring between the arch-rivals over disputed Kashmir.

“We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and adopt actions that will help stabilise the situation in the region and improve mutual relations,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

“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,” EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is expected to meet his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov in the Chinese city of Wuzhen on Wednesday for a previously planned meeting.

Wang called Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday to discuss the recent suicide attack, saying China supports Pakistan and India in efforts to resolve the issue through dialogue, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Chinese, Indian FMs expected to meet today

China, one of Pakistan’s closest allies, has poured billions of dollars into the South Asian country as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a massive infrastructure project that seeks to connect its western province of Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan.

The project is one of the largest in Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, comprising a network of roads and sea routes involving 65 countries.

India said its warplanes attacked a militant camp where Pakistan-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.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2019