Top US lawmakers reject Pakistan aid cuts in feud

Top US lawmakers have rejected talk of cutting aid to Pakistan as leverage to win the release of a US national imprisoned for allegedly shooting dead two Pakistani men.

And US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, just back from a visit to Pakistan to discuss the fate of Raymond Davis, suggested a solution to the bitter diplomatic dispute over his fate could come within days.

“We just need to work through the process the way we are in the next days, and hopefully we get to a better place,” Kerry said in what amounted to a plea for patience from increasingly angry colleagues.

Asked whether his trip yielded progress toward a way out of the ugly diplomatic feud, Kerry replied “I think so,” but brushed off questions about whether Davis might be sent to the United States for trial.

“I don’t want to get into of the details of what may or may not occur, but hopefully we get a better resolution. And I just think we need to kind of let the process work,” said the Democratic senator.

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Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, who heads the subcommittee that oversees US aid, sidestepped a question about whether lawmakers might cut aid to Pakistan but said “obviously this situation is something that I am closely looking at.”

But Senator Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on Leahy’s subcommittee, strongly warned against any rollback of assistance to Pakistan, citing the need for help in the war in Afghanistan and the hunt for suspected terrorists.

“Our relationship’s got to be bigger than this,” Graham said.