Washington, Feb 18(ANI): The United States has acknowledged that the 'illegal' detention issue of double murder-accused American official Raymond Davis has made its bilateral relationship with Pakistan "more difficult".
"Has this case made that ongoing bilateral relationship more difficult? Probably yes. But we continue to work through this. And we continue to call on his immediate release so we can get back to the business at hand," Acting Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark C. Toner said during a press briefing.
Talking about US-Pak ties, Toner, however, insisted that the "relationship continues. We've got a strategic dialogue with Pakistan. It's a vital relationship for the United States and for Pakistan. We face many of the same threats, and we're seeking to overcome them and create a Pakistan that has the right kind of democratic institutions and economic stability to - for a bright future, brighter future. And that's at the core of our relationship with Pakistan."
When asked whether the US regarded Davis as a hostage, given the fact that he was being held in Pakistan against his will, against American wishes and as the US has repeatedly said, despite being utterly innocent of any criminal action, Toner said that 'hostage' was "an extremely loaded term", and that the US was working hard with the Pakistani authorities to have them recognize his diplomatic immunity and release him immediately.
When pointedly asked whether Davis was not a hostage, Toner only said: "He is a diplomat and subject to full diplomatic immunity, and we call for his release immediately."
The acting deputy spokesman was also reminded that diplomatic immunity and innocence were two different things, and was asked whether the US was trying to get Davis released on the basis of diplomatic immunity or his innocence.
Toner replied: "Well, it's a fair question. Our fundamental argument here remains the fact that, under the Vienna Conventions, he should have full diplomatic immunity and should be released immediately, and we call on the Pakistani Government to do so."
"That said, we're also saying that he was obviously innocent of any criminal action and was simply defending himself in a botched robbery," he added. (ANI)