The United States said on Tuesday that it encourages India and Pakistan to avoid escalation and resolve their conflicts through dialogue.

US state department spokesperson Matthew Miller was asked at a press briefing on Tuesday whether the Joe Biden-led administration was concerned about the recent statements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh that India would not hesitate to cross borders and kill terrorists.

In response, Miller said: “As I have said before, the United States is not going to get into the middle of this, but we do encourage both India and Pakistan to avoid escalation and find a resolution through dialogue.”

On April 4, Modi, while addressing an election rally in Bihar’s Jamui, said that in the past, terrorists from small countries would attack India, but the Congress government would only complain about it to other countries. The prime minister said that in contrast, today’s India “goes inside enemy territory to strike”, according to The Indian Express.

Later that day, The Guardian reported that the Indian government had allegedly assassinated at least 20 persons in Pakistan since 2020 as part of a new strategy to eliminate terrorists living on foreign soil.

The British daily had claimed in its report that it had seen documentation allegedly tying India’s Research and Analysis Wing to the killings of Indian dissidents in Pakistan, which are said to have been orchestrated by sleeper cells based in the United Arab Emirates. Pakistani officials have accused these cells of paying millions of rupees to local criminals or poor Pakistanis to carry out the assassinations.

The next day, Rajnath Singh said in an interview with News18 that the Indian government would not hesitate to carry out extra-territorial killings of terrorists “who flee to Pakistan”.

Singh asserted: “If any terrorist tries to disturb the peace in Bharat or tries to carry out terror activities in Bharat, we will respond fittingly. If any terrorist flees to Pakistan, we will enter their house and kill them.”

The Ministry of External Affairs, however, denied the allegations to The Guardian, reiterating an earlier statement against Pakistan’s allegations and terming them as “false and malicious anti-India propaganda”.

On Tuesday, the US state department spokesperson also responded to a question on why the United States had not imposed sanctions on Indian citizens in the wake of alleged assassination attempts, and said: “I am never going to preview any sanctions actions, which is not to say that there are any coming, but when you ask me to talk about sanctions, it’s something that we don’t discuss openly.”

The journalist’s question appeared to refer to an alleged plot to assassinate Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil and the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada last year.

In November, the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, announced that it had filed “murder-for-hire charges” against an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, in connection with his alleged participation in a thwarted plot to assassinate Pannun. It also alleged that Gupta had been recruited by an Indian government employee who “directed a plot to assassinate on US soil an attorney and political activist who is a US citizen of Indian origin residing in New York city”.

The United States’ Justice Department alleged that the alleged plot to kill Pannun was part of a larger conspiracy to kill one person in California and at least three in Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told his Parliament in September that his country’s intelligence agencies were pursuing “credible allegations” linking agents of the Indian government to the killing of Nijjar.