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Obama breaks silence,tells Pak to release Davis

Obama said,“simple principle” of diplomatic immunity meant that Pakistan must release the 37-year-old diplomat.

Written by Agencies | Washington |
February 17, 2011 1:20:58 am

Upping the ante in a tense stand-off with Pakistan,US President Barack Obama has insisted that the jailed US diplomat Raymond Davis must be freed by Islamabad adhering to the Vienna Convention.

Obama said,“simple principle” of diplomatic immunity meant that Pakistan must release the 37-year-old diplomat. Obama conveyed the message to Pakistan at a news conference here.

“With respect to Davis,our diplomat in Pakistan,we’ve got a very simple principle here that every country in the world that is party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations has upheld in the past and should uphold in the future,” Obama said. “If our diplomats are in another country,then they are not subject to that country’s local prosecution. We respect it with respect to diplomats who are here. We expect Pakistan,that’s a signatory should recognise Davis as a diplomat,to abide by the same convention,” Obama said.

Davis was arrested in Lahore on January 27 after he shot down in a Lahore market two Pakistani men,who he said were trying to rob him. The US has been demanding immediate release of Davis arguing that he enjoys diplomatic immunity,which has been denied by Pakistan.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said the case of US official Raymond Davis could be resolved only by the courts or relatives of the dead men,while admitting that his government was facing “difficult decisions” on the issue.

The government has made it very clear that it would accept any decision by the courts or the heirs of the dead men on the issue of US national Raymond Davis,Gilani said while addressing the National Seerat Conference,a gathering of clerics and religious scholars. “The matter can be resolved if the relatives (of the dead men) grant a pardon or the court decides. We have no role in the matter,” Gilani said.

Gilani spoke amid reports that the US and Pakistan may be nearing an arrangement to repatriate Davis with the government expected to concede in court that the American qualifies for diplomatic immunity.

The government’s counsel is expected to testify on Davis’s diplomatic status when the Lahore High Court reconvenes on Thursday. The government’s position,though not publicly disclosed,was finalised at a high-level meeting in the presence of Senator John Kerry,reports said. Kerry had announced earlier in Lahore that the US Department of Justice will conduct a criminal investigation into the incident in which Davis killed two men.

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