Kerry to repair strains over Davis issue

An influential American lawmaker left Monday night for a visit to Pakistan to try to repair relations strained in the wake of the arrest of a US national, who fatally shot two Pakistanis, a U.S. newspaper reported.

According to the Boston Globe, Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is undertaking the visit at the request of the Obama administration.

But an unnamed senior U.S. official, who spoke on background because of the sensitivity of the case, said that Kerry is not trying to secure the release of Davis. Instead, Kerry’s mission will be to “help tone down the rhetoric and reaffirm the US partnership with Pakistan,” the report said.

Kerry has developed close relations with Pakistan leaders over the years, and pushed through a $7.5 billion, five-year aid package for the country.

He has travelled to Pakistan four times since he became chairman of the powerful committee in early 2009.

Meanwhile, the ABC News network reported that spokesperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Frederick Jones, confirmed the trip, saying the Democratic Senator ‘will meet with senior Pakistan government officials to reaffirm support for the strategic relationship between the two countries.

“Kerry-Lugar-Berman was designed to signal our long-term state engagement with the people of Pakistan,” Jones said.

In Washington, the State Department Monday reiterated its stance that Raymond Davis enjoys diplomatic immunity and that he should be released from detention. Spokesman Philip J Crowley said Washington is building a strategic partnership with Pakistan and expects Islamabad to implement the international convention.

“We are building a strategic partnership with Pakistan. We are going to build this relationship for the long term. We respect our international obligations, and we expect other countries, including Pakistan, to do the same.”