New York, March 01 (KMS): The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has welcomed Pakistan’s decision to release Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured when his MiG-21 was shot down by Pakistan Air Force for violating the Pakistani airspace.

UN Chief’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, talking to reporters in New York said, “The report of the release of the Indian pilot by the Pakistani authorities would be very much a welcome step. We would encourage both parties to do whatever they can to de-escalate the situation.”

Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan told the Parliament that the captured IAF pilot will be freed on Friday as a “peace gesture”.

The UN General Assembly President, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, joined in the international call for dialogue between India and Pakistan. She “asks for both sides right now to seek dialogue to avoid an escalation of tensions, but also to avoid further tragic loss of life”, her Spokesperson Monica Billela Grayley said.

Espinosa, who has visited the region is “following with great concern the latest reports on the situation between India and Pakistan”, Grayely said.

The UN General Assembly president visited Pakistan in January, this year, and India in August, 2018.

Espinosa “stresses that the use of diplomatic means is basically the best way to settle political differences, to settle political disputes, and she hopes that the relevant parties can actually resolve the current situation through peaceful means”, Grayley added.

Meanwhile, the US also welcomed Pakistan’s decision to release captured Indian Air Force pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, from their custody.

“We welcome Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment that Pakistan will release on Friday the Indian pilot held in its custody,” a State Department spokesperson said in an interview.

“The United States continues to urge both sides to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation, including through direct communication. Further military activity will exacerbate the situation,” the spokesperson said.

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