US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to Sharif to reduce India, Pakistan tensions

Washington: 'Enormously concerned' over recent increase in tensions between India and Pakistan, US Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to work out how to tamp them down, acknowledging that the latter had just finished a conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The increase "in the tensions publicly between India and Pakistan" over India's surgical cross border strike against militants in Myanmar, was "of enormous concern to all of us for all the obvious reasons," he said via teleconference Tuesday.

The 71-year-old diplomat, who suffered a broken leg two weeks ago, made a surprise appearance at the State Department's daily press briefing on crutches on a television screen remotely from his Boston home.

"These are two very, very important countries playing a critical role with respect to regional interests," said Kerry who broke his right femur in a bicycling accident in France and had surgery at a Boston hospital.

"And it's very, very important that there be no misinterpretation or miscalculation with respect to any of the back-and-forth and the empowerment some entities might feel as a result of that," he said.

"The prime minister was extremely forthcoming," said Kerry adding, "He could not have been more direct. He had actually just finished a conversation himself with the prime minister of India," Narendra Modi.

"And we welcomed some thinking together about how we can work, all of us, to try to reduce those tensions over the course of the next days and weeks," he said.

Kerry, who was due to fly to Washington later Tuesday, did not say whether he had or planned to have similar conversations with Modi or other Indian officials.

After introducing the department's new spokesman, John Kirby, on what was Kirby's first day at the podium, Kerry gave a short statement starting with his conversation with Sharif earlier in the day about tensions between India and Pakistan.

He also tackled questions from reporters about the Iran nuclear talks, Syria and other hot issues.

After "spending a fair amount of time in the next few days focused on China for the Security & Economic Dialogue," he would be going to Vienna "to conduct what one hopes would be the closeout" of Iran nuclear talks.

Kerry said the talks, which have a deadline of June 30, "remain tough," but insisted the US had not changed its position "one iota" in recent months.

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