WASHINGTON: The United States said Wednesday that a row over the incident in which Raymond Davis, a US official killed two Pakistani men, has not harmed ties between the two allies engaged in the fight against extremism.
"We are committed to build a strong and effective partnership with Pakistan. And we certainly do not want to have issues like this (shooting) distract from our... joint efforts," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
Asked if the incident - the killing of two Pakistanis by Raymond Davis, an American embassy official - had proved such a distraction, he replied: "Not so far." When pressed whether it has disrupted ties, Crowley replied: "I can't say it has."
Crowley also said that annual trilateral talks involving senior officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States and scheduled in Washington for February 23-24 were postponed for "practical" reasons.
"Pakistan dissolved its government, and it has not... repositioned ministers in every ministry that would expect to participate in a trilateral meeting. So we've postponed it for that reason," Crowley said.
The comments were the latest amid a bitter row over Raymond Davis, a US diplomat who shot the two men in a busy Lahore street on January 27. Washington has argued that Davis, who claims to have fired in self-defense, should be released under diplomatic immunity.
Last week, Crowley did not rule out that the trilateral talks could be affected when reporters pressed him about potential fallout from the shooting incident.
"We want to have a productive meeting. And if there's a reason why we don't think the meeting will be productive, we're prepared to make adjustments," Crowley told reporters. "But if we do make those decisions, we'll let you know," he added.
US Senator John Kerry voiced regret for the killings of two Pakistanis by an American embassy official as he visited the city of Lahore. Kerry reiterated Washington's stance that the man should be freed under diplomatic immunity and told reporters in Lahore Tuesday that the United States would conduct its own investigation into the killings. Crowley said that President Barack Obama's administration did not dispatch Kerry to Pakistan. "No. He is there in his capacity as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Obviously he coordinated with us before he left, and he has maintained contact with us throughout his trip," Crowley said.