US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played an ‘essential role’ in de-escalating tensions between India and Pakistan, a top State Department official said. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino, during his bi-weekly news conference in Washington DC on Tuesday, said, “Secretary Pompeo led diplomatic engagement directly, and that played an essential role in de-escalating the tensions between the two sides. 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.” The State Department again urged both the sides to continue taking steps to defuse tensions in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama attack. “Our position – the position of the United States is we continue to urge both sides to continue to take steps to de-escalate the situation, and that includes through direct communication,” Palladino said. “And we believe strongly that further military activity will exacerbate the situation,” he added. The spokesperson informed reporters that the US has been in continuous high-level contact with the two countries, with ‘a lot of private diplomacy going on right now’. “That’s with both governments via our embassies in New Delhi and Islamabad, as well as with the Indian and Pakistani embassies here in Washington. That has been sustained, that’s been ongoing, and – sometimes we do public diplomacy and sometimes there’s a time for private diplomacy, and there’s a lot of private diplomacy that’s going on right now.”Published in Daily Times, March 7th 2019.