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IAF pilot's return: US welcomes Imran Khan's decision, stresses on de-escalating tension


Washington, Mar 1: The United States on Thursday welcomed Pakistan's decision to release a captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, in their custody.

In a surprise announcement during a joint session of Parliament, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that the captured IAF pilot Varthaman will be released on Friday as a gesture of peace.

The White House

Pakistan detained Varthaman Wednesday following a fierce engagement between air forces of the two sides along the Line of Control when his MiG 21 fighter jet was downed.

“We welcome Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment that Pakistan will release on Friday the Indian pilot held in its custody,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI responding to a question on the announcement made by Khan in the Pakistani parliament.

[Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to return home today: What we know]

Simultaneously, the US has urged both India and Pakistan to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions.

“The United States continues to urge both sides to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation, including through direct communication. Further military activity will exacerbate the situation,” the State Department spokesperson said.

[How IAF shot down Pakistan's F-16 in an aerial dogfight]

The US reiterated its call to Pakistan to abide by its UN Security Council commitments to deny terrorists safe haven and block their access to funds.

“We reiterate our call for Pakistan to abide by its United Nations Security Council commitments to deny terrorists safe haven and block their access to funds,” the spokesperson said.

[#WelcomeBackAbhinandan says Twitteratti]

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Thursday joined other lawmakers in expressing concern over the escalating tension between India and Pakistan.

"This is “a result of a Pakistan-based terrorist group’s brutal attack”, he said. “I urge both countries to de-escalate the mounting tensions,” Hoyer said.


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