Kerry to visit Pakistan to discuss U.S. ties

WASHINGTON Tue May 10, 2011 6:55pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator John Kerry said on Tuesday he would travel to Pakistan in the coming days to discuss "all the relevant issues" with Islamabad after the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden.

Kerry, a Democrat who is close to the Obama administration, said he expected to see "all the main players" in Pakistan to discuss difficulties in bilateral ties following the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

"A number of people suggested it would be good to get a dialogue going about the aftermath and how we get on the right track," Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters in Washington.

U.S. lawmakers have questioned whether Pakistan is really serious about fighting militants in the region after bin Laden was found living in Pakistan. Some American lawmakers have called for a suspension in U.S. aid to Islamabad.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has rejected allegations that the killing showed Pakistani incompetence or complicity in hiding the al Qaeda leader.

Current and former U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the United States repeatedly told Pakistan that Washington would send American forces into that country if it had evidence bin Laden was hiding there.

"There are some serious questions, obviously, there are some serious issues that that we've just got to find a way to resolve together," Kerry told reporters. "Our interests and their interests I think are well served by working through those difficulties."

Kerry, who is co-author of a 2009 bill that tripled non-military aid to Pakistan, said he would not shy away from any topic. "I intend to discuss all the relevant issues that are on the table, and there are a lot of them."

He will also be going to Afghanistan on the trip.

Kerry has traveled to Pakistan before to try to tamp down crises. He was there in February to try to win the release of Raymond Davis, a former U.S. special forces member who shot dead two Pakistanis in the city of Lahore.

Davis, who said he acted in self defense, was released in March after "blood money" was paid, Pakistani and U.S. officials said.

Kerry told reporters on Tuesday that he had just finished talking to the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, about his trip, as well as President Barack Obama's Afghan war adviser Douglas Lute.

"And I'll be talking to folks at the White House before I leave," Kerry said.

(Editing by Paul Simao)

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