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U.S. senator Kerry starts talks in Pakistan over employee arrest

02-16-2011 18:52 BJT

ISLAMABAD, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry Wednesday opened talks with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad for the release of an American employee, whose arrest for killing two Pakistanis has caused serious diplomatic tension between the two allies.

Kerry, who arrived Tuesday night, met former Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad and discussed with him the issue of shooter Raymond Davis, a U.S. consulate employee.

Davis, who shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore on Jan. 27, told the police that he fired in self-defense as the slain men tried to loot him. A police inquiry report rejected Davis' statement and said that investigation has proved he intentionally killed Pakistanis.

Officials said that John Kerry will call on Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose Muslim League-Nawaz Party rules Punjab province, where Davis killed Pakistanis.

"I've come here to listen. I haven't come here to order anybody to do anything; I haven't come here to dictate. I've come here to listen carefully, to meet with your leaders and have an opportunity to find a path forward so that we can all live by the law and hopefully find a way to deal with some really urgent pressing issues for both of our countries," John Kerry said shortly after he arrived in Pakistan.

The U.S. embassy said that John Kerry will "reaffirm U.S. support for the strategic relationship between the two countries."

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 the court should decide 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 canceled as Pakistan has refused to release Davis and insists that the court should decide the issue of immunity.

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

 

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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