The United States on Thursday welcomed Pakistan's decision to release an captured Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, in their custody. In a surprise announcement during a joint session of Parliament, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Thursday that the captured IAF pilot Varthaman will be released on Friday as a gesture of peace. Pakistan detained Varthaman Wednesday following a fierce engagement between air forces of the two sides along the Line of Control when his MiG 21 fighter jet was downed. \u201cWe welcome Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's commitment that Pakistan will release on Friday the Indian pilot held in its custody,\u201d a State Department spokesperson told PTI responding to a question on the announcement made by Khan in the Pakistani parliament. Simultaneously, the US has urged both India and Pakistan to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions. \u201cThe United States continues to urge both sides to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation, including through direct communication. Further military activity will exacerbate the situation,\u201d the State Department spokesperson said. The US reiterated its call to Pakistan to abide by its UN Security Council commitments to deny terrorists safe haven and block their access to funds. \u201cWe reiterate our call for Pakistan to abide by its United Nations Security Council commitments to deny terrorists safe haven and block their access to funds,\u201d the spokesperson said. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Thursday joined other lawmakers in expressing concern over the escalating tension between India and Pakistan. "This is \u201ca result of a Pakistan-based terrorist group's brutal attack\u201d, he said. \u201cI urge both countries to de-escalate the mounting tensions,\u201d Hoyer said.