US denies suspending all high-level dialogue with Pakistan

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 9 (PTI) The US has denied reports thatit has suspended all high-level dialogue with Pakistan afterIslamabad refused to release an American diplomat detained onpossible murder charges.

"We continue contact with Pakistan to express theimportance of resolving the case of a US diplomat inaccordance with international law," State Department spokesmanP J Crowley posted on Twitter yesterday afternoon.

Crowley''s tweet came hours after The Washington Postreported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cancelled ameeting last weekend with Pakistani Foreign Minister ShahMehmood Qureshi at an international security conference inMunich, in protest of the arrest of its diplomat Raymond AllenDavis.

The US insists that Davis has diplomatic immunity,which is not being honoured by Pakistan.

"Not true," a senior administration official saidwhen asked about The Post''s report and similar news itemspublished today.

"We continue to meet with Pakistani officials andpress for our diplomat''s release," the official said.

He also denied reports that the Trilateral meetingbetween Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States scheduledfor later this month has been postponed because of the strainin US-Pak relationship on the Davis issue.

The Trilateral Ministerial is currently scheduledfor February 23-24. Preparations for it continue, theofficial told PTI.

"We maintain high-level contacts with Pakistanigovernment to make clear that our US diplomat should bereleased. He has diplomatic immunity.

"Pakistan has international obligations under theVienna convention and we continue to stress that to thePakistani government at all levels," Crowley told Voice ofAmerica (VOA).

"We continue to talk to the Pakistan government tostress the importance of resolving this issue. Meanwhile, weobviously have a strategic partnership with Pakistan, and wecontinue to prepare for the upcoming trilateral meeting,"Crowley said.

The New York Times reported that United States hadwarned Pakistan that if Davis was not released, the scheduledMarch-end visit of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari toWashington could be jeopardised and badly needed financialassistance could be cut.

The White House refused to entertain questions relatedto Davis and the daily State Department briefing was cancelledyesterday.

It has so far twice summoned Pakistani AmbassadorHusain Haqqani for formal complaints and demands thatIslamabad recognise Davis''s diplomatic immunity and releasehim immediately.

The message was repeated in a meeting in IslamabadMonday Zardari and US Ambassador Cameron Munter.

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