Davis' release paves way for Zardari's visit to US

Davis' release paves way for Zardari's visit to US

The US called off a trilateral meeting with Pakistan and Afghanistan after Davis was arrested in Lahore in January for shooting and killing two men. The development also resulted in a delay in Zardari's planned visit to the US sometime early this month.

Davis was pardoned and freed by a Pakistani court this week after the families of the two men he killed agreed to a "blood money" deal of over two million dollars under Islamic laws.

Officials said Zardari is likely to visit the US next month. The US administration has asked Pakistan to start working on the date and agenda of the visit. Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told PTI that the Foreign Office had begun working on Zardari's visit to the US. "However, no date has been finalised as yet," he said.
Responding to a question, Babar said: "The President's visit to the US was not postponed but rescheduled owing to the Davis issue."

Officials and leaders of the ruling Pakistan PPP said Zardari's visit would assume greater importance in the wake of the standoff over Davis. "Both the countries are redefining their relations and it will be up to President Zardari how he pleads Pakistan's case," a PPP leader said. The agenda of the President's visit will be finalised in consultation with the military top brass, the PPP leader said.

Leading political analyst Rasool Bakhsh Raees said the US had learnt a lesson from the issue of Davis and it should now revisit its policy of sending security contractors to other countries. He said almost all "thorny" issues between the two sides had been addressed during the standoff over Davis. Raees said the President's upcoming visit to the US meant relations between Pakistan and the US were back on track.

"Both countries need each other, especially for the war on terror," he added.