WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: US Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, left Monday night for a visit to Pakistan to try to repair relations strained in the wake of the arrest of Raymond Davis, a US embassy worker, who fatally shot two Pakistanis, a US newspaper reported.
According to the Boston Globe, Senator Kerry was undertaking the visit at the request of the Obama administration.
But a senior US official, who requested anonymity, said that Kerry was 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 Pakistani 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 Pakistani 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.
Moreover, Senator Kerry in a telephone call to former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi commended his role in strengthening ties between the US and Pakistan.
Kerry further said that Pakistan’s role was important for regional stability.
Speaking to DawnNews, Qureshi confirmed the contact and said issues such as Pak-US relations, regional stability and counter-terrorism came under discussion.
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 was building a strategic partnership with Pakistan and expected 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.”