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Kerry heads to Pakistan to soothe strained ties

February 15, 2011 15:11 IST

Senator John Kerry, a close foreign policy aid of United States President Barack Obama, has left for a quick visit to Pakistan amidst strained bilateral ties after Islamabad refused to grant diplomatic immunity to an American official facing murder charges.

"Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry left on Monday night for Pakistan where he will meet with senior Pakistan government officials to reaffirm support for the strategic relationship between the two countries," said his spokesman Frederick Jones.

Kerry, who heads the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is considered to be a close foreign policy aid of US President Barack Obama.

Kerry's trip comes at a time when the relationship between the two countries is strained by the detention of a US government official, Raymond Davis, who is suspected of killing two Pakistani men in self-defence during an alleged robbery attempt late in January in Lahore.

Kerry was the first high ranking US leader to visit Pakistan after the devastating floods last year. The US insists that Davis must be released as he has diplomatic immunity, which Islamabad has refused to accept.

Over the weekend, the United States had postponed the trilateral meeting involving Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kerry is the author of the Congressional legislation that gives $1.5 billion to Pakistan for five years.

"Kerry-Lugar-Berman was designed to signal our long-term state engagement with the people of Pakistan," Jones said was quoted as saying by the ABC News.

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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