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March 3, 2019

India rejects mediation to defuse tensions

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March 3, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Rejecting any mediation by Russia or other countries, India’s ambassador to Moscow said tensions between Pakistan and appear to be de-escalating.

“The situation is already stabilising and stabilising rather quickly,” said Venkatesh Verma, India’s diplomat in Moscow, during an interview to agency RIA-Novosti on Saturday. “India has clearly stated that it is not interested in an escalation of the situation. And the best way to achieve a normal state of affairs in the region resides in the actions of Pakistan in the fight against terrorist groups,” he said.

Reacting to reports that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had offered to mediate as well as provided a venue for talks between Pakistan and India, when he spoke to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday, Verma said no “formal offer of mediation” was received by India.

“I want to emphasise that we did not receive a formal offer of mediation. And even if we do, we will not accept it. So far, no country has offered to mediate in resolving the conflict,” Verma affirmed. According to the Russian MFA statement, Lavrov had expressed “Moscow’s readiness to promote the de-escalation of tensions and the lack of an alternative to resolving any differences between Islamabad and New Delhi by politico-diplomatic means.”

On Thursday, at the height of tensions following the IAF strike on Balakot and retaliation by the Pakistan Air Force, which subsequently led to the capture of Indian pilot Abhinandan, Russian President Vladimir Putin had spoken to Indian PM Narendra Modi. During the discussions, Putin had “expressed hope for a prompt settlement” of the “crisis”.

In a separate statement, Russian Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Senator Konstantin Kosachev went a step further and said Russia could be a “direct mediator in a trilateral format”. “In our opinion, the role of Russia may also consist in influencing Pakistan so that it does not allow terrorist groups to use its territory,” Verma said when asked what India hopes from Russia.

The comments on mediation come even as credible reports emerged that leaders of the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had played a key role in defusing the situation on Wednesday. Amid continuous aggressive posture adopted by India, Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has delayed his visit to Pakistan and India. Earlier, it was announced that Jubeir will arrive in Pakistan on Friday carrying a "very important" message from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

However, now it has been said that Adel Al-Jubeir's visit to Pakistan has been delayed. For, he will first visit India on Saturday and then reach Pakistan today (Sunday).

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the armed forces of Pakistan have proved that they can fully defend the country against any external aggression. Addressing a news conference along with Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar in Lahore on Saturday, he said Pakistan has shown its capability and firm resolve for self-defence.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan's preference is peace and it does not want war. He said the country is actively taking steps to deescalate the situation.

He said a large segment of Indian media is creating war hype. However, he said, millions of people in India want peace and it is only a small segment of population in the neighbouring country that is promoting war hysteria.

The minister appreciated the role of Pakistani media for cautiously and responsibly reporting the current standoff between the two countries. He said Saudi foreign minister will visit both Pakistan and India to talk to the leadership of both countries in an attempt to de-escalate the situation.

Replying to a question, he said it was decided that the government will write letters to British House of Commons and European Parliament to apprise them of the prevailing situation and Pakistan's efforts to defuse the situation.

The minister said Pakistan believes in resolving the issues through diplomacy. To a question, he said Indian authorities failed to protect the life of Pakistani prisoner Shakirullah.

Replying another question, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said decision not to attend the OIC's Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Abu Dhabi was made after consultation with all the political parties.

Meanwhile, Turkey said it is ready to do its part to de-escalate tension between Pakistan and India.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also hailed Pakistan’s move in handing over an Indian pilot downed in the recent tension, adding he looks forward to seeing similar steps from India.

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