US calls off Afghan-Pak trilateral meeting in retaliation to Davis detention issue

Washington, Feb 13(ANI): The United States has postponed a high-level trilateral meeting among the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan that was scheduled to take place later this month, in what seems to be a retaliation against the continued judicial remand of double-murder accused US diplomat Raymond Davis in Lahore.

The trilateral talks, in which top officials were to have outlined the progress on issues like the war in Afghanistan and the campaign against extremism, had been scheduled for February 23-24 in Washington.

"In light of the political changes in Pakistan and after discussions with Afghan and Pakistani officials in Washington, it was agreed to postpone the Trilateral Meeting scheduled for February 23-24," US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley said in a press statement.

The step is being seen as an American arm-twisting of Pakistan to release Davis, who has confessed to shooting dead two Pakistani men in Lahore, allegedly in 'self-defence'.

However, Crowley maintained that "we remain committed to 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."

"We look forward to convening a very productive Trilateral Meeting at the earliest opportunity," he added.

The latest development- the postponement of the trilateral dialogue- seems to be the fallout of the diplomatic row between the two countries on the Davis detention issue.

It is noteworthy that according to an ABC News report, two Pakistani officials involved in negotiations about Davis said that Donilon summoned Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, to the White House on Monday evening, and told him that the US will kick Haqqani out of the country, close US consulates in Pakistan and cancel Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's upcoming visit to Washington if the detained US embassy employee is not released from custody by Friday.

However, the US Embassy in Islamabad denied the report in a press release titled "Correction for the record".

"Although we are unable to discuss the substance of a private diplomatic meeting, U.S. Embassy Islamabad can state categorically that the description of the conversation in this report is simply inaccurate," the US Embassy added.

According to earlier reports, the US had already warned that the Pak-US high-level dialogue would be at risk unless Pakistan releases Davis, and also threatened to cut aid to Pakistan in that case.

Despite the US insisting that Pakistan should free Davis as he is entitled to "full immunity from criminal prosecution by Pakistan" under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, he was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days on Friday, with the next hearing due on February 25. (ANI)

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