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 ShanahanTrump waiting on watchdog findings for Pentagon head: report Overnight Defense: Trump to reverse North Korea sanctions imposed by Treasury | Move sparks confusion | White House says all ISIS territory in Syria retaken | US-backed forces report heavy fighting | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated 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 PompeoUS sanctions Venezuelan bank after Guaidó aide's arrest The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference 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 TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller 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.