UK engaged in round-the-clock diplomacy to calm situation in Kashmir: Hunt

Round-the-clock diplomatic efforts are under way in a bid to defuse the "very volatile" crisis over Kashmir, Jeremy Hunt has said.

The Foreign Secretary said clashes between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan over the disputed territory are "extremely dangerous".

His comments came after Prime Minister Theresa May urged both sides to show restraint and work to find a peaceful outcome.

In the latest exchanges in the brewing conflict, Pakistan's air force said it shot down two Indian warplanes after they crossed the frontier between the two nations.

The escalation came hours after Pakistan said Indian mortar shells fired by Indian troops from across the frontier dividing the two sectors of Kashmir killed six civilians and wounded several others.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for talks with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to address the situation.

Mr Hunt said he had spoken to his counterparts in India and Pakistan in recent days and urged both sides to "de-escalate and reduce tensions".

Speaking in his Commons office, Mr Hunt said: "You have two nuclear powers who have a long history of tension squaring up against each other and now the start of some kind of military conflict. It's an extremely dangerous situation."

Mr Hunt said there wi no desire from either side to escalate the conflict, but the situation is "very volatile", adding: "You don't just have the governments but you have public opinion in both countries that is very inflamed."

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Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand near the remains of an Indian Air Force helicopter after it crashed in Budgam district, outside Srinagar on February 27, 2019. - Officials said an investigation was underway into the cause of the crash, which came as Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian fighter jets in the divided and disputed Kashmir region. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand near the remains of an Indian Air Force helicopter after it crashed in Budgam district, outside Srinagar on February 27, 2019. - Officials said an investigation was underway into the cause of the crash, which came as Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian fighter jets in the divided and disputed Kashmir region. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand near the remains of an Indian Air Force helicopter after it crashed in Budgam district, outside Srinagar on February 27, 2019. - Officials said an investigation was underway into the cause of the crash, which came as Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian fighter jets in the divided and disputed Kashmir region. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
UPDATING CAPTION Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand on a field as an Indian army helicopter lands near the site where an Indian Air Force helicopter crashed in Budgam district, on the outskirts of Srinagar on February 27, 2019. - Officials said an investigation was underway into the cause of the crash, which came as Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian fighter jets in the divided and disputed Kashmir region. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP) / UPDATING CAPTION (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
UPDATING CAPTION Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand look on as an Indian army helicopter lands near the site where an Indian Air Force helicopter crashed in Budgam district, on the outskirts of Srinagar on February 27, 2019. - Officials said an investigation was underway into the cause of the crash, which came as Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian fighter jets in the divided and disputed Kashmir region. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP) / UPDATING CAPTION (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
UPDATING CAPTION Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand near the remains of an Indian Air Force helicopter after it crashed in Budgam district, on the outskirts of Srinagar on February 27, 2019. - Officials said an investigation was underway into the cause of the crash, which came as Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian fighter jets in the divided and disputed Kashmir region. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP) / UPDATING CAPTION (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
UPDATING CAPTION Indian soldiers stand guard near the remains of an Indian Air Force helicopter after it crashed in Budgam district, on the outskirts of Srinagar on February 27, 2019. - Officials said an investigation was underway into the cause of the crash, which came as Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian fighter jets in the divided and disputed Kashmir region. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP) / UPDATING CAPTION (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
UPDATING CAPTION Indian soldiers gesture near the remains of an Indian Air Force helicopter after it crashed in Budgam district, outside Srinagar on February 27, 2019. - Officials said an investigation was underway into the cause of the crash, which came as Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian fighter jets in the divided and disputed Kashmir region. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP) / UPDATING CAPTION (Photo credit should read TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
A man looks at television screens, after Pakistan shot down two Indian planes, at a shop in Karachi, Pakistan February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
India's Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol along the fenced border with Pakistan in Ranbir Singh Pura sector near Jammu February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta
People burn an effigy depicting Pakistan as they celebrate after Indian authorities said their jets conducted airstrikes on militant camps in Pakistani territory, in Ahmedabad, India, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People burn a poster depicting India's flag against what they call airspace violation by the Indian military aircrafts, in a protest in Peshawar, Pakistan February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz
A Pakistani F-16 fighter drops flares during celebrations to mark Defence Day at the Nur Khan military airbase in Islamabad on September 6, 2016. Pakistan on September 6 celebrated the 51st anniversary of its second war with arch-rival India weeks after the two nuclear powers faced off in some of their deadliest skirmishes in over a decade. The major fighting of the war took place between August and September 1965 with both sides claiming victory after it ended in stalemate following the intervention of the United States and Soviet Union. / AFP / AAMIR QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of a Pakistani religious group Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba hold a rally against India, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Pakistan's air force shot down two Indian warplanes after they crossed the boundary between the two nuclear-armed rivals in the disputed territory of Kashmir on Wednesday and captured one Indian pilot, a military spokesman said. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Supporters of a Pakistani religious group Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba chant slogans at a rally to condemn Indian aggression, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Pakistan's air force shot down two Indian warplanes after they crossed the boundary between the two nuclear-armed rivals in the disputed territory of Kashmir on Wednesday and captured one Indian pilot, a military spokesman said. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Pakistani Kashmiris walk past India-bound cargo trucks, parked as road is closed to Indian Kashmir, in the border town of Chakoti at Line of Control in Pakistani Kashmir, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Pakistan said India launched an airstrike on its territory early Tuesday that caused no casualties, while India said it targeted a terrorist training camp in a pre-emptive strike that killed a "very large number" of militants. (AP Photo/Abdul Razaq)
An Indian man shouts slogans during a gathering to celebrate reports of Indian aircrafts bombing Pakistan territory, in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. A pre-dawn airstrike inside Pakistan that India said targeted a terrorist training camp and killed a "very large number" of militants ratcheted up tensions on Tuesday between the two nuclear-armed rivals at odds over the disputed territory of Kashmir. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
An Indian woman offers sweets to an Indian police officer as she along with others celebrate reports of Indian aircrafts bombing Pakistan territory in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Pakistan says India launched an airstrike on its territory early Tuesday that caused no casualties, while India said it targeted a terrorist training camp in a pre-emptive strike that killed a "very large number" of militants. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
Pakistan villagers cross a bridge in Balakot, Pakistan, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Maj. Gen Asif Ghafoor, a military spokesman, said the Indian "aircrafts" crossed into the Pakistan-controlled Muzafarabad sector of Kashmir, which is split between the two countries but claimed by each in its entirety. He said Pakistan scrambled fighters and the Indian jets "released payload in haste," near Balakot, on the edge of Pakistani-ruled Kashmir. (AP Photo/Aqeel Ahmed)
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The minister said the UK is working with allies and other members of the UN Security Council to find a way to calm the situation, with contacts "at all levels of government".

He said: "It's a full, round-the-clock, diplomatic effort to try and make sure we can avert the worst and end up with a peaceful resolution which we know both countries want."

At Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Mrs May said she is "deeply concerned" about the situation and the UK "urgently calls for restraint on both sides to avoid further escalation".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "We strongly support rapid dialogue between India and Pakistan in order to reduce the conflict, reduce the tensions and deal with the root causes of it before more lives are lost."

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain and partition in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.

A Pakistani rally behind a banner showing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Peshawar, Pakistan(Muhammad Sajjad/AP)
An anti-Indian rally with a banner showing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Peshawar, Pakistan (Muhammad Sajjad/AP)

Low-level skirmishes are not unusual over the frontier, but the dramatic rise in tensions comes after Indian jets targeted what New Delhi claimed was a terrorist training camp in Pakistani territory.

The military response came after a February 14 car bomb attack on a convoy in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed 40 paramilitary troops.

The militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack, which was carried out by a suicide bomber from Indian Kashmir.

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