Washington: Amid deepening diplomatic
stand-off, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday asked Pakistan to
follow the Vienna Convention and release American diplomat
Raymond Davis, who is facing trial on murder charges.
"With respect to Mr Davis, our diplomat in Pakistan,
we`ve got a very simple principle here that every country in
the world that is party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic
Relations has upheld in the past and should uphold in the
future", Obama told reporters at a news conference.
"If our diplomats are in another country, then they
are not subject to that country`s local prosecution. We
respect it with respect to diplomats who are here. We expect
Pakistan, that`s a signatory and recognize Mr Davis as a
diplomat, to abide by the same convention", Obama said in
response to a question.
Obama, however, refrained from giving details of
Administration’s specific conversation with the Pakistani
Government but said he is very firm about this.
36-year-old Davis was arrested in Lahore on January 27
after he shot down in a Lahore market two Pakistani men,
who he said were trying to rob him. The US has been demanding
immediate release of Davis arguing that he enjoys diplomatic
immunity, which has been denied by Pakistan.
"The reason this is an important principle as if it
starts being fair game on our ambassadors around the world,
including in dangerous places where we may have differences
with those governments, and our ambassadors or our various
embassy personnel are having to deliver tough messages to
countries where we disagree with them on X, Y, Z, and they
start being vulnerable to prosecution locally, that`s
untenable. It means they can`t do their job", Obama said when
asked why US is pushing too much on Pakistan which has a weak
government right now.
"We respect these conventions and every country should
as well. So we`re going to be continuing to work with the
Pakistani government to get this person released", he said.
Noting that "a couple of Pakistanis were killed in a
incident between Davis in Pakistan", Obama said, "Obviously,
we`re concerned about the loss of life. We`re not callous
about that. But there`s a broader principle at stake that I
think we have to uphold."
Obama`s firm message on Pakistan came a day after he
dispatched Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, to talk with the Pakistani leadership on
the issue and overall relationship in recent weeks, which has
strained after Islamabad refused to release Davis.
The United Sates over the weekend announced to
postpone the tri-lateral meeting involving Pakistan and
Pakistan scheduled later this month. The US is now going ahead
with its meeting with Afghanistan from February 23 to 25.