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Top U.S. senator in Pakistan to resolve diplomatic row

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Feb 16,IRNA -- U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday for talks over the fate of U.S. employee, facing double murder charges, to help resolve the fast growing diplomatic row between the two allies.

A brief statement from the U.S. embassy said John Kerry will meet with senior Pakistani government officials and ‘to reaffirm U.S. support for the strategic relationship between the two countries’.

The U.S. embassy statements said, “Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry will arrive in Pakistan tonight to meet with senior Pakistani government officials and to reaffirm U.S. support for the strategic relationship between the two countries”.

“Chairman Kerry has traveled to Pakistan four times since assuming chairmanship of the Committee in early 2009. He was the first high-ranking U.S. official to travel to Pakistan following the devastating floods in that country last summer.

“In 2009, Chairman Kerry coauthored the “Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009,” also known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman (KLB) act, which triples non-military foreign assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion per year over the next five years. Kerry-Lugar-Berman was designed to signal our long-term strategic engagement with the people of Pakistan”.

The embassy statement did not mention Kerry would discuss the issue of Raymond Davis with Pakistani leaders but it is thought that the issue would top his discussions in Islamabad and Lahore.

Kerry arrived in Lahore Tuesday night to meet U.S. diplomats to get abreast himself about the status of the shooter’s trial. He is likely to meet the Pakistani police officers involved in the investigation process, sources said.

The Kerry’s visit may be an attempt to play down reports in the U.S. and Pakistani media that the murder of two Pakistanis in Lahore on January 27 has spoiled ties between the two allies in the so-called anti-terror war.

The U.S. has suspended high level talks with Pakistan and several U.S. Congressmen threatened to stop aid to its ally after Islamabad insisted that court will deicide his diplomatic immunity.

The U.S. argues that Davis was in Pakistan under a diplomatic visa and has diplomatic immunity from prosecution in a host country.

U.S. media reported last week that Washington has suspended all high level talks with Islamabad over the issue.

The U.S. was scheduled to host a trilateral meeting in Washington with Afghanistan and Pakistan later this month, but the meeting was cancelled as Pakistan has refused to release Davis and insists that the court must decide the issue of immunity.

The Lahore High Court, which hears the case, says that the government has no role in the case as it is sub-judiced.

The police on Tuesday presented a detailed ‘challan’ in the District and Sessions Judge, Lahore, rejecting Davis claim that he fired in self-defence.



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