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Russia set to propose hosting India-Pakistan talks to defuse conflict

Russia is ready to propose hosting talks between India and Pakistan to achieve settlement, if they wish this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Thursday.

“Certainly, if they wish this,” Lavrov said answering a TASS question.

Tensions in relations between India and Pakistan flared up on February 14 when a suicide attacker rammed his car filled with explosives into an Indian paramilitary convoy in Jammu and Kashmir, killing 45. The Jaish-e-Mohammed group claimed responsibility for the attack.

New Delhi accused Islamabad of supporting terrorists who allegedly carry out raids on Indian territory from Pakistan-based camps. In addition, India claimed to have evidence proving that Pakistani military and its intelligence agencies could be behind the attack. In response, Islamabad rejected these accusations.

On Tuesday, India carried out an airstrike on this group’s camp in a Kashmir area controlled by Pakistan. On Wednesday, the Pakistani Air Force retaliated by targeting military facilities of Jammu and Kashmir. New Delhi and Islamabad also claimed that they had shot down each other’s jets during a skirmish in the skies.

After the conflict escalated on Wednesday, Pakistan’s airspace was declared temporarily closed due to security reasons and many civil flights were canceled. India’s authorities also halted civil aircraft’s flights over the northern states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Several hours later, India lifted this restriction while Pakistan allowed sending just several flights from Karachi.

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir – the only Indian state where Muslims constitute a majority – has been tense for years. Groups calling for separating from India have been active in its Indian part. New Delhi accuses Islamabad of supporting terrorists, while Pakistan rejects these claims.

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