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Putin calls Modi as Russia offers mediation between India, Pakistan

Updated March 01, 2019

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This file photo shows Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak to the media.— AFP/File
This file photo shows Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak to the media.— AFP/File

MOSCOW: Russia is ready to mediate between India and Pakistan to try to calm tensions between the two nuclear powers, Russian government officials said on Thursday, warning of the risk of further clashes between the two countries.

Moscow made the offer after Pakistan said it was considering returning a captured Indian pilot and as US President Donald Trump said American mediation was helping to defuse the crisis.

Russian President Vladi­mir Putin told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a phone call that he hopes for a quick settlement of the crisis between India and Pakistan, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Both leaders also expre­ss­ed their interests in further strengthening of military-technical ties, it added.

Russia has particularly close relations with India which buys large quantities of Russian military equipment while its relationship with Pakistan has warmed in recent years.

When asked on Thursday if Russia was ready to help mediate the two countries, the TASS news agency quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying: “If they want this, then of course.” Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova later said Moscow was ready to do anything it could to help.

“We are concerned about the escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan and the dangerous manoeuvring of the two countries armed forces near the Line of Control, which risks direct military clashes,” Zakharova told reporters.

Lavrov spoke to Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday on the sidelines of an event in China after which he said he hoped tensions could be de-escalated and that both countries would show restraint.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2019