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UN urges India, Pakistan to take immediate steps to defuse tensions

February 20, 2019

Soldiers patrol during a curfew in Jammu, following the terror attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama, near Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir | AFP

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called on India and Pakistan to take immediate steps to defuse tensions and offered to help broker a solution if both sides agree to UN mediation.

The two countries have been locked in a diplomatic clash following a suicide attack on February 14 in India-administered Kashmir that killed 40 Indian security personnel, triggering counter-operations by Indian forces in the area.

“We are deeply concerned at the increasing tensions between the two countries,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Guterres “stresses the importance of both sides to exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps” to de-escalate, while also offering to mediate “should both sides ask,” said Dujarric.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi appealed to Guterres to step in to defuse tensions, in a letter seen by AFP.

“It is imperative to take steps for de-escalation. The United Nations must step in to defuse tensions,” said the letter sent on Monday.

The attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed, but the foreign minister insisted that “attributing it to Pakistan even before investigations is absurd.”

In response to the rising tensions, France was considering a new push at the Security Council to place Masood Azhar, the leader of JeM, on the UN terror list, but faced opposition from China, diplomats said.

China has twice blocked — in 2016 and 2017 — attempts to put the JeM leader on the blacklist. The group itself was added to the terror list in 2001.


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