US postpones tri-lateral meeting with Afgh and Pak

Washington: The US has postponed the tri-lateral dialogue with Afghanistan and Pakistan mainly because of the strained relationship between Washington and Islamabad over the arrest of an American accused of murder.

"In light of the political changes in Pakistan and after discussions with Afghan and Pakistani officials in Washington, it was agreed to postpone the Trilateral Meeting scheduled for February 23-24," State Department Spokesman P J Crowley said in a statement.

No specific reason for the postponement of the meeting, being held after a gap of about two years, was given except that "in the light of the political development".

After the recent Cabinet re-shuffle Pakistan as of now has no Foreign Minister.

"We remain committed to robust engagement between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States, as we share many issues of mutual concern and benefit from being at the same table. We look forward to convening a very productive Trilateral Meeting at the earliest opportunity," Crowley said.

The postponement of the meeting in the wake of the strained US-Pak relationship on the Raymond Davis case also puts a big question mark on the expected visit of President Asif Ali Zardari in March and that of US President Barack Obama to Pakistan later this year.

Davis was arrested in Lahore on January 27 after he shot and killed two men who he claimed 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.

A ABC New report earlier this week had said National Security Advisor Tom Donillon had called Pakistani Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani and threatened him to kick him out and close down US consulates in Pakistan. But this was denied by both the White House and Haqqani.

Early this week, Crowley, had hinted that the meeting could be postponed if the US feels it would not be productive.

"We want to have a productive meeting. If there`s a reason why we don`t think the meeting will be productive we`re prepared to make adjustments. If we do make those decisions, we`ll let you know," Crowley had said.