Trilateral talks with US postponed amid Davis row

Scheduled high-level meeting postponed "in light of the political changes in Pakistan", says US State Department.


Reuters February 12, 2011

WASHINGTON: A scheduled high-level meeting among US, Afghan and Pakistani officials this month has been postponed, the State Department said on Saturday amid a deepening diplomatic rift over a US man locked in a Pakistani jail accused of murder.

State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said the decision to scrap the February 23-24 meeting had been taken "in light of political changes in Pakistan and after discussions with Afghan and Pakistani officials in Washington."

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Friday dropped Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a cabinet shake-up.

"We remain committed to a robust engagement between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States as we share many issues of mutual concern and benefit from being at the same table," Crowley said in a statement, adding that the United States hoped to reschedule the meeting "at the earliest opportunity."

Tensions between Islamabad and Washington have been rising over the case of Raymond Davis, a US consular employee who shot dead two Pakistani men last month in what he said was an attempted robbery.

The Obama administration insists diplomatic immunity should apply to Davis, and the case has become a focus for anti-US sentiment in Pakistan, which the United States counts as an important, if unreliable, ally in its war against militants that launch attacks against its soldiers in Afghanistan.

The trilateral meetings have been held periodically in a bid to foster stability in Afghanistan, where around 100,000 US troops are fighting tenacious Taliban militants, and in Pakistan, where a fragile government battles an insurgency of its own.

The controversy over Davis, who shot the two men on January 27, is the latest issue pitting Pakistani officials against their US counterparts even as they struggle to project an image of cooperation on security.

On Friday, a Pakistani court jailed Davis for 14 more days, threatening to prolong a dispute that has put many high-level dealings on hold, including official visits to Pakistan, and could threaten US assistance to the country, one of the largest non-Nato recipients of American military aid.

US officials have denied slowing or halting meetings with their Pakistani counterparts, although they have also emphasized that resolving the Davis case is important for the relationship to move forward.

COMMENTS (7)

Syed Hussein El-Edroos | 10 years ago | Reply Islamabad should refuse to put up with blackmailing and pressure of Washington. The Govt should take the stand that it would follow the law of the land
Zeeshan | 10 years ago | Reply Its about time we break the isolation of beggary - somehow for the first time I feel proud that men like Khurshid Kasuri are at the helm of affairs.
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