US praises Pak for returning Indian chopper

Washington: The US has described Pakistan returning an Indian chopper which had strayed into its territory as a "very, very good step" and hoped to see progress in relations between the two South Asian neighbours to continue.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland noted that this was a result of "increased dialogue" between India and Pakistan and the two countries reestablishing some hotlines and emergency procedures through which they were able to speak directly with each other. "So that`s a very, very good step, and the kind of step and the kind of progress we hope to see continue," she said in reply to a question about the incident that happened this week in the region in which a Cheetah helicopter of Indian Army`s Aviation Corps with four officers on board inadvertently crossed the border.

"My understanding is this was actually, as these things go, a relatively good news story, that as a result of the increased dialogue between India and Pakistan and the fact that they have reestablished some hotlines and emergency procedures, they were able to speak directly, thereby avoiding an incident," Nuland said on Wednesday.

The helicopter was forced to land in Pakistan on October 23, which immediately triggered urgent talks between the two foreign and military establishments. Less than five hours after the incident, the chopper with all its crew were allowed to return by Pakistan.

This was for the first time in many years, that the two countries did not ratchet up an incident like this.