Pentagon urges Pakistan and India to de-escalate tensions

Pentagon urges Pakistan and India to de-escalate tensions
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The Pentagon is urging India and Pakistan to back off future military attacks following the first Indian airstrike into Pakistan since 1971.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump: GOP has `clear contrast' with Dems on immigration Overnight Defense: Congressional leaders receive classified briefing on Iran | Trump on war: 'I hope not' | Key Republican calls threats credible | Warren plan targets corporate influence at Pentagon Sanders introduces petition to prohibit war with Iran without Congress' approval MORE is focused “on de-escalating tensions and urging both of the nations to avoid further military action,” according to a Defense Department statement released Wednesday.

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The Pentagon adds that Shanahan has been in contact with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump: Anonymous news sources are 'bulls---' Iranian official: Trump 'holding a gun' while pursuing talks The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump: GOP has `clear contrast' with Dems on immigration MORE, national security adviser John Bolton, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command head Adm. Philip Davidson, and U.S. Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel “regarding India-Pakistan tensions.”

India on Tuesday ordered an airstrike over the disputed Kashmir region targeting the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) fighter group. The strike, which India claimed killed "a very large number of ... terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis," was the first major state-sanctioned military action in Kashmir by either side since 1999.

The airstrike was in retaliation for a Feb. 14 suicide car bombing allegedly conducted by JeM that killed at least 40 Indian officials, according to the foreign secretary's statement. 

Earlier Wednesday, Pakistan and India both said they had shot down each other's warplanes over Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The U.S. military, which sells weapons to India and views the nation as a strategic partner in the region, has taken a hard line on Pakistan under the Trump administration. President TrumpDonald John TrumpComey: Barr is 'sliming his own department' GOP Mueller critic says Flynn contacted him during special counsel probe: report Acting DHS secretary threatened to quit after clashing with Miller: report MORE, in his August 2017 speech announcing a new strategy for the Afghanistan war, accused the country of providing “safe havens” for Taliban fighters.

And last year Trump announced a suspension of aid to Pakistan — including $300 million from the Pentagon — over its perceived unwillingness to take firm action against militants in the country. 

Trump in his first tweet of 2018, said Pakistan was rewarding the U.S. for its aid with “nothing but lies & deceit.” 

The administration has attempted to reset its tense relationship with Islamabad, however, with Pompeo in September meeting with the country's new prime minister, Imran Khan.