US postpones tri-lateral meeting with Afghanistan and Pak

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 13 (PTI) The US has postponed thetri-lateral dialogue with Afghanistan and Pakistan mainlybecause of the strained relationship between Washington andIslamabad over the arrest of an American accused of murder.

"In light of the political changes in Pakistan andafter discussions with Afghan and Pakistani officials inWashington, it was agreed to postpone the Trilateral Meetingscheduled for February 23-24," State Department Spokesman P JCrowley said in a statement.

No specific reason for the postponement of themeeting, being held after a gap of about two years, was givenexcept that "in the light of the political development".

After the recent Cabinet re-shuffle Pakistan as of nowhas no Foreign Minister.

"We remain committed to robust engagement betweenAfghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States, as we share manyissues of mutual concern and benefit from being at the sametable. We look forward to convening a very productiveTrilateral Meeting at the earliest opportunity," Crowley said.

The postponement of the meeting in the wake of thestrained US-Pak relationship on the Raymond Davis case alsoputs a big question mark on the expected visit of PresidentAsif Ali Zardari in March and that of US President BarackObama to Pakistan later this year.

Davis was arrested in Lahore on January 27 after heshot and killed two men who he claimed were trying to rob him.

The US has been demanding immediate release of Davisarguing that he enjoys diplomatic immunity; which has beendenied by Pakistan.

A ABC New report earlier this week had said NationalSecurity Advisor Tom Donillon had called Pakistani Ambassadorto the US Hussain Haqqani and threatened him to kick him outand close down US consulates in Pakistan. But this was deniedby both the White House and Haqqani.

Early this week, Crowley, had hinted that the meetingcould be postponed if the US feels it would not be productive.

"We want to have a productive meeting. If there''s areason why we don''t think the meeting will be productive we''reprepared to make adjustments. If we do make those decisions,we''ll let you know," Crowley had said.

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