Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman returned to India from Pakistan on Friday, two days after he was taken into custody by Pakistan Army when his MiG 21 fell in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
The decision to release the pilot, announced by Paksitan prime minsiter Imran Khan on Thursday, was met with cheers and hopes that the tension between the two countries would de-escalate. While in both Pakistan and India, journalists, politicians, performers, sportspersons and common people rejoiced on social media, other countries too reacted positively to the development.
China, Indian Express reported, welcomed the "goodwill signal" by Pakistan in releasing Abhinandan. A key ally to Pakistan, China has often blocked India's efforts to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar declared a United Nations-designated terrorist.
In a Ministry of Foreign Affairs' briefing on Friday, spokesperson Lu Kang said that China had, from the beginning, called upon both sides to "exercise restraint, ease tensions, and engage in dialogue."
"China welcomes the goodwill signal by the Pakistan side. De-escalation serves common interest of both sides," Lu said.
Meanwhile, France, which assumes the presidency of the United Nations Security Council on Saturday, vowed to "do everything it can to ensure that the perpetrators of the terrible Pulwama attack are punished".
A statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian, French minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs said, "I welcome the easing of tensions between India and Pakistan and the release of the Indian pilot held in Pakistan. I applaud the two governments' decision to exercise restraint and responsibility and encourage them to resume their bilateral dialogue."
He added, "Today I reiterate our solidarity with India in the fight against all forms of terrorism."
The European Union had called on New Delhi and Islamabad to exercise "maximum restraint" in this atmosphere.
Russia, which along with China, forms the politically significant Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral grouping, on Friday offered to mediate and provide a venue to Pakistan and India for talks to resolve their current differences, the Pakistan foreign office said.
Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov spoke to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi over telephone and discussed the situation in the region following escalation of tensions between the two neighbours, it said.
"Russian foreign minister Lavrov reiterated his country's offer of mediation and provision of venue for the talks between India and Pakistan," the FO added.
On Thursday, the United Nations had welcomed Pakistan's decision to return Abhinandan. Spokesperson for the UN Secretary General Stephane Dujarric said that the world body and the international community want the two countries to "de-escalate tensions".
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Mar 02, 2019 09:36:35 IST