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France asks Pak to end support to terror groups, backs India for its fight against terrorism


ANI Europe
In the backdrop of aerial strikes by India at terror camps in Pakistan, France on Tuesday said it stands with India in the fight against terror and asked both India and Pakistan to exercise restraint to avert any risk of military escalation and preserve strategic stability in the region.
It also asked Pakistan to put an end to operations of terror groups in the country, while recognising India's legitimacy to ensure its security against cross-border terrorism.
"France, which stands by India in the fight against terrorism in all its forms, is fully engaged in mobilising the international community to sanction the terrorists responsible for this attack and freezing their financing networks," acting spokesperson of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
It further asked both "India and Pakistan to exercise restraint so as to avert any risk of military escalation and preserve strategic stability in the region."
Calling for the resumption of talks between the two countries, the acting spokesperson further said, "The resumption of bilateral dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi is necessary to initiate a peaceful settlement of differences."
Last week, Ambassador of France to India Alexandre Ziegler said that his country is "pushing" to put JeM chief Masood Azhar on the UN sanctions list. This will be the second time that France will put forth its proposal at the United Nations.
In 2017, France, supported by the United States and the United Kingdom, had moved a proposal at the UN Sanctions Committee 1267 to get Azhar declared as a "global terrorist", but it was blocked by China.
"We are very much pushing in that direction. It has been two years that we are trying to put him on the UN sanctions list," Ziegler told ANI at the five-day Aero India 2019 show in Bengaluru.
Earlier today, India carried out airstrikes in Balakot in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, destroying a major camp of JeM and eliminating a "large number" of terrorists, including top commanders, of the terror group which attacked a CRPF convoy in Pulwama on February 14.
In the swift operation, launched at around 3.30 am and completed within minutes, 12 Mirage-2000 fighter jets belonging to the IAF pounded the training centre, housing around 300 terrorists, in Balakot area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with six bombs while SU-30 combat aircraft maintained air superiority to ward off any retaliation by the Pakistan Air Force, sources said.
The camp, located in a forest area atop a hill, was headed by JeM chief Masood Azhar's brother-in-law Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Gauri, who was involved in the 1999 hijack of Indian Airlines plane IC-814 and was on Interpol lookout notice since 2000.
The casualty figure of the terrorists is very high as the JeM had shifted its entire cadre to this camp from the launching pads along the Line of Control (LoC), fearing surgical strike-type response from India in the aftermath of Pulwama attack, sources said about first such action by India.
A large number of JeM terrorists, including top commanders, trainers and those terrorists who were to be the 'fidayeen' (suicide attackers) were eliminated in the "non-military" air strike, India's Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told the media while officially disclosing information about the air strike, hours after the action.
Gokhale said the "pre-emptive" strike by India had become absolutely necessary as there was credible information that JeM was planning further attacks in this country.
Following the airstrikes, the foreign secretary briefed the diplomats including those from the US, UK, Russia, Australia, Indonesia, Turkey and six ASEAN nations.
"We want to congratulate the Indian government for quickly briefing us. The message was a direct one. It was a non-military preemptive strike. India wanted to target terrorists and not civilians. India behaved responsibly," said Hans Dannenberg Castellanos, Dean of Diplomatic Corps in India after meeting Gokhale.

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First Published: Feb 26 2019 | 10:16 PM IST

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