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Pakistan: U.S. shooting case won’t derail talks
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan‘s standoff with Washington over a jailed U.S. Embassy worker will not thwart talks between the two countries and Afghanistan, a Pakistani government spokesman said Sunday.
In an apparent step to show its displeasure, the United States on Saturday postponed a meeting with Pakistani and Afghan officials to discuss the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan prizes such gatherings as a way to assert influence in Afghanistan.
The meeting was to have taken place next week. The United States did not directly cite Mr. Davis‘ continued detention as the reason, but U.S. diplomats have said the talks could become a casualty of the dispute.
“The trilateral talks will be rescheduled in due course of time,” Mr. Basit said. “It is important the trilateral process continues. We hope whenever held, (talks) will yield maximum results for peace and stability.”
He declined comment on what the escalating diplomatic spat means for the Davis case or for relations with the United States.
Police in Pakistan have accused Mr. Davis of “cold-blooded murder.” Mr. Davis claims he shot the men in self-defense when they tried to rob him at gunpoint in the eastern city of Lahore. The United States insists he has diplomatic immunity from prosecution.
Pakistani officials, fearful of a backlash in a population where anti-American fervor is widespread, have referred the case to the courts. Police are pushing for murder charges against the 36-year-old Mr. Davis, a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was foreign minister until a Cabinet reshuffle three days ago, said that his stance had been that Mr. Davis did not qualify for diplomatic immunity. It was not clear whether Mr. Qureshi’s dismissal was related to his stance. A new foreign minister has not been named.
Pakistan is considered a key to U.S. success in neighboring Afghanistan, making it difficult for Washington to sever ties. Pakistan relies on U.S. aid and protection, but the government seems paralyzed in the face of public outrage over the shootings.
On Sunday, the Pakistani Taliban threatened to attack any government official involved in Mr. Davis‘ eventual release.
“Whether he is a judge, police, lawyer, army, police maker or a politician, we will target him. We will kill him,” spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan told the AP by phone.
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