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Did US Pressure Secure IAF Pilot’s Release From Pakistan? Donald Trump Hinted at Defusing Crisis

Imran Khan has said Pakistan will release IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday as a gesture of peace.

Updated:February 28, 2019, 6:45 PM IST
Did US Pressure Secure IAF Pilot’s Release From Pakistan? Donald Trump Hinted at Defusing Crisis
US President Donald Trump. (Image: Reuters)
New Delhi: Just four hours after United States President Donald Trump said there would be some "reasonably decent news" on the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman would be returned to India as a gesture of peace.

Trump, in his statement, had said that the United States had been involved in mediation efforts, a day after the two neighbours downed each other’s jets and Pakistan captured the IAF pilot. "They have been going at it and we have been involved in trying to have them stop," Trump said. "We have been in the middle trying to help them both out."

After Khan's statement in Pakistan parliament, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo reiterated that the US continues to be very engaged with India and Pakistan, and he has spoken to leaders of both countries.

The IAF pilot was taken into custody by Pakistan on Wednesday after he landed on the other side of the Line of Control as his aircraft crashed during an aerial dogfight between India and Pakistan.

"In our desire of peace, I announce that tomorrow, and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer in our custody," Khan said on Thursday as he advocated dialogue and de-escalation of tensions.

Apart from the US, China and other world powers had also urged restraint from the two nations as tensions escalated following the tit-for-tat air strikes.

The Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, spoke by telephone with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and expressed "deep concern", China's foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The United States, Britain and France also proposed the United Nations Security Council to blacklist Masood Azhar, the head of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, the group that claimed responsibility for the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama, in which lives of 40 CRPF personnel were lost.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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