Washington: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a high-level 'private diplomatic' talks to de-escalate tensions between India and Pakistan at the Hanoi Summit in Vietnam last week.
The talks were attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
“Secretary Pompeo led diplomatic engagement directly, and that played an essential role in de-escalating the tensions between the two sides,” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino told at a briefing.
"He spoke with leaders in both countries, and that included the Indian Minister of External Affairs Swaraj, National Security Advisor Doval, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi," Palladino said.
The US State Department said that Trump administration is closely pursuing the issue of Pakistan using F-16 aircraft in the Indian airspace on February 27, a potential violation of Washington`s military sale agreements that limit how Pakistan can use the planes.
“We’ve seen those reports and we’re following that issue very closely,” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said at a briefing.
"I can’t confirm anything, but as a matter of policy, we don’t publicly comment on the contents of bilateral agreements that we have in this regard involving US defense technologies nor the communications that we have with other countries about that. So we’re taking a look and we’re going to continue to take a look, and I’m going to leave it at that,” he added.
Tensions between India and Pakistan simmered after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
Eleven days later, Indian Air Force launched a counter-terror operation in Balakot on February 26, eliminating several terrorists.
The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 and captured its pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was handed over to India on Friday.
The IAF later displayed parts of an AMRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile as evidence to "conclusively" prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during an aerial raid targeting Indian military installations.
Pakistan bought several batches of F-16 planes, built by Lockheed Martin Corp, from Washington before relations soured and the United States cut off subsidised sales in 2016.
While Pakistan has denied using F-16 jets, it has not specified which planes it used, though it assembles Chinese-designed JF-17 fighter jets on its soil.