Zarif urges restraint as India, Pakistan come to blows

TEHRAN:- Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has called on both Pakistan and India to exercise restraint, following recent tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

Zarif told his Pakistani counterpart, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a phone conversation on Wednesday that Tehran was ready to work with Islamabad and New Delhi to help resolve their differences through dialogue.

The Iranian FM was scheduled to talk to Indian Foreign Minister Vijay Keshav Gokhale over the phone later in the day.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated dramatically since February 14, when Indian paramilitary forces on the New Delhi-controlled side of Kashmir were hit by a deadly bomb attack orchestrated by Pakistan-based militants.

The tensions reached a peak on Tuesday, when India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said his country had conducted “preemptive” airstrikes against what it described as a militant training camp in Balakot near Kashmir, shortly after the Pakistani military accused New Delhi of violating its territory in the Kashmir region.

Fresh escalations fuel fears of the two nuclear-armed neighbors slipping back into a full-fledged war over disputed Kashmir.

According to an Indian government source, some 300 militants, were killed in the strikes.

Earlier on Wednesday, Pakistan said it had shot down two Indian military jets and captured two of their pilots after the aircraft breached its airspace.

Iran, which has extensive diplomatic and trade ties with both countries, has advised them against escalating the situation.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Tuesday that, as a victim of terror, Iran views bolstering full cooperation among nations without discrimination as the only way to tackle terrorism and extremism around the world.

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