US, China call for direct talks between India-Pak after missile incident

The US and China have urged India and Pakistan to hold direct talks for reducing tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations following the inadvertent firing of a missile on March 9, Dawn reported.

“We continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on issues of concern,” a US State Department official said on Monday when asked if Washington would urge India and Pakistan to hold direct talks on the recent missile incident and other issues.

Also on Monday, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry supported Pakistan’s demand for a joint probe into the incident and emphasised the need for direct talks between the two neighbours on all issues, Dawn news reported.

“We called on relevant countries to have dialogue and communication as soon as possible and launch a thorough investigation into this incident,” spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing.

He also urged India and Pakistan to “strengthen information sharing and establish a notification mechanism in time to avoid the recurrence of such incidents and to prevent miscalculation”.

The Chinese official said that Pakistan and India were “both important countries in South Asia, bearing responsibilities for maintaining regional security and stability”.

Pakistan has said that it was not satisfied with New Delhi’s “simplistic explanation” and demanded a joint probe to establish the facts surrounding the incident.

According to India’s Defence Ministry, in the course of a routine maintenance on March 9, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile.

It was only later learnt that the missile had landed inside the territory of Pakistan.

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