Exclusive: Sen. John Kerry Heads to Pakistan to Calm Diplomatic Tensions

Feb 14, 2011 7:48pm

ABC News’ Kristina Wong reports:

Sen. John Kerry has left for a trip to Pakistan today, according to his spokesperson on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to calm frayed diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Spokesman Frederick Jones said the trip comes at a time when the relationship is strained by the detention of a U.S. government official, Raymond Davis, suspected of killing two Pakistani men in self-defense during an alleged robbery attempt late last month in Lahore. Another Pakistani man was then accidentally killed by a rescue vehicle rushing to Davis' aid.

The U.S. was scheduled to host a trilateral meeting in Washington with Afghanistan and Pakistan at the end of February, but the meeting was canceled after Pakistan resisted U.S. demands to release Davis immediately. Pakistan is charging Davis with murder, but U.S. officials argue that Davis was in Pakistan under a diplomatic visa and has diplomatic immunity from prosecution.

“Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry left tonight for Pakistan where he will meet with senior Pakistan government officials to reaffirm support for the strategic relationship between the two countries,” Jones said. The senator is traveling on behalf of the Obama administration.

Details of when he will arrive were not given, due to security reasons.

Chairman Kerry has traveled to Pakistan four times since assuming chairmanship of the committee in 2009. He was the first high-ranking U.S. official to travel to Pakistan following the devastating floods in that country last September. 

In 2009 Sen. Kerry co-authored the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, also known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, which triples non-military foreign assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion per year over the next five years.

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

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