Hours after Indian Air Force fighter planes struck a terror camp in Balakot across the Pakistan border, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left for China to attend a Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting on Tuesday night. She is also expected to hold bilateral meetings on the pre-dawn air strike with foreign ministers of the two countries.
The visit comes at a time when Pakistan has warned of an impending retaliatory attack, and China asked both the countries to “exercise restraint”. The meeting will be between Ms Swaraj and her counterparts from China and Russia – Wang Yi and Sergei Lavrov.
“Counter-terrorism on the agenda. EAM @SushmaSwaraj departs for Wuzhen, #China for the 16th Foreign Ministers Meeting of Russia, India & China #RIC. Apart from attending the trilateral meeting, EAM will hold bilateral discussions with Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
Besides the air strike, the Pulwama terror attack by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) – which resulted in the death of 40 CRPF soldiers in Kashmir on February 15 – and the listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the United Nations are also likely to figure in the RIC meeting on Wednesday. China has repeatedly blocked India’s bid at the world body to take action against Masood Azhar. While countries across the globe condemned Pakistan’s role in the Pulwama terror attack, China’s stand on the JeM chief had remained unchanged.
Beijing reacted to India’s air strike with a conciliatory message. “We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and adopt actions that will help stabilise the situation in the region and improve mutual relations,” news agency PTI quoted China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang as saying.
Earlier today, parties cutting across political lines had unanimously backed the air strike but maintained that the operation should not be used to fan “jingoistic” sentiments in the country.
Around 300 terrorists were killed in the air strike, carried out around 3.30 am, top government sources told NDTV. Twelve Mirage 2000 fighter jets dropped bombs weighing 1,000 kg on the terror camp at Balakot.