WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Monday Pakistan’s foreign minister has assured him Islamabad is committed to de-escalating tensions with India and dealing “firmly” with terrorists.
Bolton’s comments follow a Feb. 14 suicide bombing, claimed by Pakistan-based militants, which killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police.
“Spoke with Pakistani FM (Shah Mehmood) Qureshi to encourage meaningful steps against JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) and other terrorist groups operating from Pakistan,” Bolton said on Twitter.
“The FM assured me that Pakistan would deal firmly with all terrorists and will continue steps to deescalate tensions with India,” Bolton added.
Pakistan, which denies Indian accusations of aiding militant groups, last week announced a crackdown against all proscribed outfits.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry late on Monday said Qureshi informed Bolton “about the de-escalatory measures taken by Pakistan” in the wake of the aerial bombing missions carried out by both countries in late February.
Qureshi told Bolton that Pakistan’s strike in Kashmir on Feb. 27 was in self-defence and retaliation to India’s raid on its territory a day earlier. New Delhi said it hit a JeM training camp in Pakistan, but Islamabad denies any such camp exists.
The two countries fought an aerial dogfight over Kashmir on Feb. 27, and a couple of days later Pakistan returned a downed Indian pilot in a gesture that appeared to de-escalate the crisis.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, in a joint conference with Qureshi, commended Pakistan on Tuesday for returning the pilot and offering talks with India. But he also urged Islamabad to stamp out militant groups which attack neighbouring countries.
“We both agreed that cross-border terrorism has to be permanently stopped and there too there have been positive signs in the past few days that we welcome very much,” Maas said. “Ultimately it’s about fighting any kind of terrorism and extremism.”
Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish and Nick Macfie