Yousuf Raza Gilani shakes hands with Marc Grossman prior to a meeting at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad. – AFP

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday urged the United States to prevent mistrust caused by isolated diplomatic incidents from spoiling ties between the two nations. Relations between Washington and Islamabad have been strained since police arrested Raymond Davis, a US national who has confessed to killing two men in self-defence on a busy street in Lahore on January 27.

Revelations that Davis was a CIA contractor have heaped pressure on Zardari's fragile government and further heightened public mistrust of US actions inside Pakistan.

Zardari told visiting US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman that the two countries should not be “swayed by misperceptions and some isolated incidents that may be used by some to increase tensions and mistrust”.

In an official statement Zardari also urged Pakistan and US “to remain focused on the path of pursuing long-term, multifaceted and durable strategic ties.”

Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Basir said last week it was too early to conclude that the incident had inflicted long-term damage on ties between the two countries.

But Washington is pushing hard for Davis' release, arguing that he has diplomatic immunity and acted in self-defence.

“Weakening of relations was not an option for the two countries. We have to find ways and means to find acceptable solutions to all problems,” Zardari added in the statement.

Grossman's behind-the-scenes approach is widely seen as a departure from that of his hard-charging predecessor Richard Holbrooke, who died of a torn aorta in December.

Grossman, a Los Angeles native, served at the US embassy in Pakistan from 1977 to 1979 and rose steadily through the ranks of the US Foreign Service. He assisted Holbrooke in the Dayton peace talks that ended the Bosnian war.

Defending Pakistan from accusations by some US officials that it could do more to tackle terrorism, Zardari said “no one should question our commitment or intentions”.

He described Pakistan's sacrifices in the war against terrorism as “matchless” adding it is “a long-drawn battle where military means alone can not achieve complete victory.”

The president also said his country had an “an abiding interest” in a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

GILANI- GROSSMAN MEETING Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, during a meeting with  Grossman, said that Pakistan’s stance on the Davis issue is based on principles and there can be no negotiations around it.

He said that the decision regarding Davis’ immunity will be made by the court and it should not affect bilateral ties between Pakistan and the United States.

Gilani urged the new envoy to provide the remaining amount of aid for Pakistan through the coalition support fund.

The premier said that Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan and suggestions for sustainable peace in the region would be welcomed.

Grossman told the prime minister that the stalled aid for Pakistan will be provided very soon. He also appealed to Gilani to release Davis.

Senior diplomatic officials from Pakistan and US were also present during the meeting.

GROSSMAN-KAYANI MEETING

Grossman also called on Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Monday.

According to a press release issued by the ISPR, the visiting dignitary remained with him for some time and discussed the matters of mutual interest.

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