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Feb 8

Written by: Diana West
Tuesday, February 08, 2011 2:41 AM 

The AP is reporting shocking evidence of life in Washington:

The United States may scrap upcoming talks with Pakistan about the war in Afghanistan to further pressure Islamabad to free an American who shot dead two Pakistanis, U.S. officials said.

Let's hope.

Washington insists the detained American has diplomatic immunity and killed the Pakistanis in self-defense as they tried to rob him at gunpoint. It says the man's detention is illegal under international agreements covering diplomatic ties.

Pakistani leaders, facing a groundswell of popular anger triggered by the incident, have avoided definitive statements on the status of the American, whom they have named as Raymond Davis. Davis's next court appearance is set for Feb. 11.

Two senior U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Monday that talks involving Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S. set for Feb. 24 in Washington are now in doubt because of the spat. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to release the information publicly.

The talks are supposed to be held at the ministerial level, meaning U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shah Mahmood Qureshi would participate. It's possible that they could simply be downgraded to included just lower-level officials. ...

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday and pressed him to release Davis. That meeting and recent U.S. press statements have indicated growing frustration with an ally considered key to ending the conflict in Afghanistan. ...

When does "growing frustration" finally mature into the judgment that this alliance with Pakistan is a dead end?

Clinton spoke with Zardari by phone last week about the diplomat's case and also raised it with Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on the sidelines of an international security conference in Germany at the weekend, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

"We continue to make it clear to the government of Pakistan that our diplomat has diplomatic immunity and in our view was acting in self-defense and should be released," Crowley said Monday.

The wife of one of the men who Davis shot committed suicide on Sunday, explaining beforehand that she feared her husband's killer would be freed without trial. Her death further inflamed anti-American sentiment.

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