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China welcomes release of IAF pilot; calls for more terrorism cooperation between India, Pak

China on Friday welcomed Pakistan’s decision to release the Indian Air Force pilot and encouraged the two countries to engage in more counterterrorism cooperation and dialogue for the regional peace and stability.

Pakistan is set to release captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman as a “first step” to open negotiations with India.

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

Asked how China views Pakistan’s decision to release the pilot and whether Beijing played any behind-the-scenes role in it, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters, “Well, from the start China has been calling upon the two sides exercise restraint and take measures to ease tensions, engage in dialogue to resolve the differences”.

“I have taken note of the developments. China welcomes the goodwill signals released by the Pakistani side. De-escalation serves the common interests of both countries. We encourage the two sides to engage in more dialogue for the peace and stability in the region,” he said.

About Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer to investigate the Pulwama terror attack if credible evidence is provided, Lu said, “we encourage the two sides to take more measures to create favourable atmosphere for the joint efforts to deal with the relevant issue.

“The cooperation on counter-terrorism and jointly uphold the regional peace and stability, this is what China hopes to see”.

China’s call for more India-Pakistan cooperation on the counter-terrorism comes in the backdrop of Beijing endorsing India’s demand for elimination of breeding grounds of terrorism and extremism and agreeing to have joint policy coordination under the aegis of Russia, India, China (RIC) Foreign Ministers mechanism.

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