Diplomat case strains relations between US, Pakistan 


 Taliban leaders warned the Pakistani government Tuesday  
that it would retaliate if  U.S. consulate employee Raymond Davis,  
accused of killing two Pakistanis, is released into U.S. custody, news  
agencies in Pakistan are reporting.

The case has strained the fragile relationship between Washington and  
Pakistan.

 Sen. John Kerry left for Pakistan on Tuesday in an effort to  
negotiate for Davis' release. He is being jailed in the Pakistani city  
of Lahore for the shootings last month.

Davis said he shot the two gunmen when they were attempting to rob him and kill him. But details of the case are in dispute and the U.S. has not commented on the specifics of the shooting. 

President Obama was asked about the case in his Tuesday news conference. He said Davis has diplomatic immunity and should be  
released.  He declined to discuss ongoing negotiations to accomplish that.

Pakistani officials,  however, are fearful of a backlash in  
their nation. Pakistani citizens have taken to the streets burning US  
flags and asking that Davis face trial. Taliban leaders are also  
threatening the government.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq said Tuesday that "if  
(Pakistani) rulers hand him over to America then we will target these  
rulers. If Pakistani courts cannot punish Davis then they should hand  
him over to us."

"We will give exemplary punishment to the killer Davis," Tariq said.

On Thursday, the United States is expected to present a petition to a  
Lahore court to certify that Davis has diplomatic immunity and should  
be released.

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Sara A. Carter

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