Kuwait visit: Zardari likely to meet Biden

Published: February 24, 2011

President Asif Ali Zardari

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari is likely to meet US Vice President Joe Biden on February 26 while on a visit to Kuwait to attend the country’s 50th anniversary of independence, as well as its 20th anniversary of liberation from Iraqi invasion, official sources told The Express Tribune.

Earlier, the US had cancelled trilateral talks with Pakistan and Afghanistan scheduled to take place on February 22 in Washington, in what seemed like a gesture of displeasure over the arrest of American national Raymond Davis, who is in custody for killing two Pakistanis in Lahore on January 27.

Although the US State Department did not specifically cite the tense relations with Pakistan as a reason for the cancellation of the talks, diplomatic sources in Islamabad  believe the step was related to the arrest of Davis.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have suffered a serious setback as Islamabad  refuses to grant diplomatic immunity to Davis. The US has been constantly demanding Davis’ release under the Vienna Conventions and insists that the arrested US national enjoys diplomatic immunity.

Pakistan, however, maintains that the courts would decide whether or not Davis enjoys immunity under the Vienna Conventions. A court in Lahore is scheduled to begin the prosecution of Davis under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Meanwhile, President Zardari is scheduled to visit Washington next month, but diplomatic circles now believe the trip might also be postponed due to the spat between the two governments over the Davis episode. Zardari is also likely to meet other world leaders on the sidelines of Kuwait’s independence ceremony.

The US was asked to participate in the parade by the Kuwaiti government along with representatives from the original coalition of 36 countries.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2011.

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