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Obama asks Pakistan to release Raymond Davis

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.

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