A security personnel member stands guard outside the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi. (Photographer: T.S Narayan/Bloomberg)

India Refuses to Negotiate Over Fate of Captured Pilot, Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- India will not negotiate or talk with Pakistan over the fate of a captured air force pilot, an Indian official said in New Delhi.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is ready to talk his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on phone, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on GEO television channel Thursday. The government was ready to consider returning the captured Indian pilot if that helped defuse tension, Qureshi said.

Pakistan arrested the Indian pilot after aircraft from the two nations clashed in the disputed region of Kashmir in the worst military stand-off in decades.

India needs credible and verifiable action from Pakistan that it has targeted terrorist groups operating on its soil, said the official, who did not want to be identified.

International Pressure

India’s statement comes as the U.S. urged India and Pakistan to refrain from further military action as international pressure builds on the long-standing rivals to de-escalate the most serious flare-up in decades that’s seen fighter jets from both nations shot down.

"The potential risks associated with further military action by either side are unacceptably high for both countries, their neighbors, and the international community," said a White House National Security Council official who spoke condition of anonymity citing the sensitivity of the matter.

A day before Pakistan downed the Indian jet, the Indian Air Force said its jets launched airstrikes against terrorists inside Pakistan. The target was a camp run by Jaish-e-Mohammed which claimed responsibility for the Feb. 14 suicide car bombing in Kashmir killing 40 members of India’s security forces.

India also shot down a Pakistani fighter plane on Wednesday, Raveesh Kumar, spokesman at India’s Ministry of External Affairs said. Indian ground troops saw the aircraft falling in Pakistani territory, he said. Pakistan’s military spokesman Asif Ghafoor, in turn, denied that the air force had lost a jet.

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