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US denies suspending dialogue with Pakistan

Washington: The US has denied reports that it has suspended all high-level dialogue with Pakistan after Islamabad refused to release an American diplomat detained on possible murder charges.

"We continue contact with Pakistan to express the importance of resolving the case of a US diplomat in accordance with international law," State Department spokesman P J Crowley posted on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Crowley`s tweet came hours after The Washington Post reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cancelled a meeting last weekend with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at an international security conference in Munich, in protest of the arrest of its diplomat Raymond Allen Davis.

The US insists that Davis has diplomatic immunity, which is not being honoured by Pakistan.

"Not true," a senior administration official said when asked about The Post`s report and similar news items published today.

"We continue to meet with Pakistani officials and press for our diplomat`s release," the official said.

He also denied reports that the Trilateral meeting between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States scheduled for later this month has been postponed because of the strain in US-Pak relationship on the Davis issue.

The Trilateral Ministerial is currently scheduled for February 23-24. Preparations for it continue, the official told PTI.

"We maintain high-level contacts with Pakistani government to make clear that our US diplomat should be released. He has diplomatic immunity.

"Pakistan has international obligations under the Vienna convention and we continue to stress that to the Pakistani government at all levels," Crowley told Voice of America (VOA).

"We continue to talk to the Pakistan government to stress the importance of resolving this issue. Meanwhile, we obviously have a strategic partnership with Pakistan, and we continue to prepare for the upcoming trilateral meeting," Crowley said.

The New York Times reported that United States had warned Pakistan that if Davis was not released, the scheduled March-end visit of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to Washington could be jeopardised and badly needed financial assistance could be cut.

The White House refused to entertain questions related to Davis and the daily State Department briefing was cancelled yesterday.

It has so far twice summoned Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani for formal complaints and demands that Islamabad recognise Davis`s diplomatic immunity and release him immediately.

The message was repeated in a meeting in Islamabad Monday Zardari and US Ambassador Cameron Munter.

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