Pak likely to repatriate US diplomat: Report

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Islamabad, Feb 16 (PTI) After weeks of tense standoff,the US and Pakistan may be nearing an arrangement torepatriate US official Raymond Davis with the governmentexpected to concede in court that the American qualifies fordiplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention.

The government''s counsel is expected to testify onDavis''s diplomatic status when the Lahore High Courtreconvenes tomorrow.

The government''s position, though not publiclydisclosed, was finalised at a high-level meeting convened todevise a strategy on the Davis case, in view of the visit ofUS Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry whois in Pakistan as a special envoy of the Obama administration.

"The Lahore High Court will be informed that the USEmbassy''s notification of January 20 in respect of RaymondDavis, intimating his appointment as a member of theadministrative and technical staff, made him eligible forimmunity under the Vienna Convention," an unnamed official wasquoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

Speculation that the US and Pakistan may be close toan arrangement on Davis gained ground after Senator Kerryannounced at a news conference in Lahore late last night thatthe US Department of Justice will conduct a criminalinvestigation into the incident in which Davis shot and killedtwo men despite his diplomatic immunity.

"Our Department of Justice will conduct its ownthorough criminal investigation regardless of the immunity. Westill believe the immunity applies but that doesn''t mean wedon�t have the right under our law or the capacity to gothrough our own process," Kerry said.

The government is also expected to inform the HighCourt that Pakistan''s laws and the Foreign Ministry''sregulations required Davis to be registered with authoritiesas a diplomat, but this could not be done because of certainunresolved queries, the official told the Dawn.

The court will also be told that the system ofaccreditation being followed in Pakistan is not in accordancewith international law or prevalent in many countries,including the US, the official said.

The matter will then be left for the court tointerpret, the official added.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ijaz Chaudhry hadobserved on February 1 that the court will decide "whether(Davis) has or does not have immunity".

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