New York: US State Department Spokesperson John Kirby neither confirmed nor denied India’s claim on “surgical strikes” in Pakistan. “Surgical strikes” is purportedly the response from the Indian government to avenge the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in Uri, Kashmir.
In a Press briefing on Thursday, Kirby avoided straight answers to direct questions from journalists on India’s claim to have carried “surgical strikes” in retaliation to the Uri attack earlier this month.
“We’ve seen those reports. We’re following the situation closely, as I think you can understand. We also understand that the Indian and Pakistani militaries have been in communication. We believe that continued communication is obviously important to reduce tensions.”
In a twisted question, a journalist asked if India consulted US before the “surgical strikes”, as pointed out in some media reports that Secretary Kerry spoke to his counterpart in India.
The Spokesperson for the US Department of State gave another tangent reply:
“I can confirm for you that the Secretary [Kerry] spoke with the – on the 27th, so earlier this week, with Indian External Affairs Minister Swaraj and reiterated his strong condemnation of the September 18th Uri attack. He condemned terrorism in all its forms and he cautioned against any escalation in tensions.”
“Okay?” Kirby ended.
In response to a follow-up question on whether the recent attack was an escalation, Kirby said, “I’m not going to characterize it. Obviously, it’s – I mean, obviously an attack like that escalates tensions. But what I don’t want to do is try to get into some sort of broad characterization, one way or the other. But obviously an attack like this is horrific.”
Kirby, however, was interrupted by a journalist to clarify if the “surgical attack” was the one that Secretary Kerry warned against.
The spokesperson again circumvented the “surgical strike” issue by saying that he was not commenting on it.
“Oh, I thought you were talking about the Uri attack,” he clarified.
In an endeavor to shun the volley of questions related to “surgical strikes” and US’s role in India’s military response, Kirby concluded by saying:
“Well, look again we- our message to both sides has been the same, in terms of encouraging them to increase communication to deal with this threat and to avoid steps that escalate the tensions. And I’m – I think I’m not going to get into characterizing each and every step along the way there. But obviously, what we want to see is increased cooperation against what is a very shared common threat for both countries, and to see steps being taken to deal with it by all sides.”