Washington: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday expressed hope that the tension between India and Pakistan would de-escalate after he had ‘good conversations’ with the two nuclear-armed neighbours. Pompeo had spoken to the leaders of India and Pakistan including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor Ajit K Doval and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in the last two days.

While travelling from Hanoi in Vietnam to Manila in the Philippines, Pompeo reportedly said, “We were and continue to be very engaged with the issue between India and Pakistan.” He said, “I spent a good deal of time on the phone last night talking to leaders in both countries, making sure there was good information exchanged, encouraging each country to not take any action that would escalate and create increased risk.”

He added, “I had good conversations, and I am hopeful that we can take down the tension there, at least for the time being, so they can begin to have conversations that don’t portend risk of escalation to either of the two countries. So we’re working hard on that.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Russia President Vladimir V Putin called Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone and conveyed his deep condolences on the Pulwama terrorist attack. Putin also expressed solidarity of the people of the Russian Federation with the people of India in the fight against terrorism.

Earlier on Wednesday, at least three Pakistani jets violated the Indian air space and entered border areas Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch and Nowshera sectors but were pushed back by Indian aircraft. The IAF, in retaliatory firing, shot down an F-16 jet 3 km within Pakistan territory in Lam Valley. Pakistan also arrested an Indian Air Force pilot.

On Tuesday, India avenged the dastardly Pulwama terror attack by mounting a massive offensive on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Pakistan. India carried out a ‘non-military pre-emptive air strike’ on three terror camps, killing nearly 300 Pakistani militants in Balakot. A very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of terrorists who were being trained for suicide attacks were eliminated in the operation.

Tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama attack claimed by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Forty CRPF soldiers were killed in the on February 14 suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir.

(With Agency inputs)