Last Updated: January 26, 2023, 11:54 IST
The Biden administration downplayed former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claim that India and Pakistan came close to nuclear war in 2019 and said that the remark was made by Pompeo as a “private citizen”.
When asked about former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s book, State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a regular press briefing on Wednesday responded by saying, “He is expressing the view as a private citizen as his right.”
In his latest book, Mike Pompeo claimed that he was informed that Pakistan was preparing for a nuclear attack in the wake of the Balakot surgical strike in 2019 by his then-Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj who told him that India was contemplating its own escalatory response.
In his book ‘Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love’ that hit stores on Tuesday, Pompeo said that he was in Hanoi for the US-North Korea Summit on February 27-28 in 2019 when the incident took place. He claimed that the world was not aware of the situation between India and Pakistan.
“I do not think the world properly knows just how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to spilling over into a nuclear conflagration in February 2019. The truth is, I don’t know precisely the answer either; I just know it was too close,” Pompeo wrote.
“I’ll never forget the night I was in Hanoi, Vietnam when – as if negotiating with the North Koreans on nuclear weapons wasn’t enough – India and Pakistan started threatening each other in connection with a decades-long dispute over the northern border region of Kashmir,” he further wrote.
“After an Islamist terrorist attack in Kashmir — probably enabled in part by Pakistan’s lax counterterror policies — killed forty Indians, India responded with an air strike against terrorists inside Pakistan. The Pakistanis shot down a plane in a subsequent dogfight and kept the Indian pilot prisoner,” he added.
Pompeo also detailed a conversation with the North Korean leader during his first trip to Pyongyang in 2018, ahead of the US-North Korea summit held three months later.
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