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Pakistan Urges Strong Ties With US Despite Tensions


U.S. Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Marc Grossman shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani.

U.S. Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Marc Grossman shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani.

Pakistan's president said on Monday the United States and his country cannot afford a downturn in their strategic relationship.

Asif Ali Zardari told the new U.S. special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Marc Grossman, that both Pakistan and the United States should not be swayed by "misperceptions" and "isolated incidents" that may be used by some to increase tensions and mistrust.

Zardari issued the statement Monday after meeting with Grossman in Islamabad. He said Pakistan and the U.S. should remain focused on long-term strategic ties.

The talks come during a time of strained relations between both nations following the arrest of an American CIA contractor who is accused of killing two Pakistanis.

U.S. officials say Raymond Davis has diplomatic immunity and acted in self-defense during an attempted robbery in Lahore in January. Pakistan has resisted releasing him, saying the matter will be decided by the courts.

Grossman is on his first official visit to Pakistan as U.S. envoy since replacing Richard Holbrooke, who died suddenly late last year.

Also Monday, a Pakistani court set bail for an American worker jailed for overstaying his visa.

Aaron Mark DeHaven was arrested last month in Peshawar. DeHaven will have to remain in the area after posting the $23,500 bail and still faces court hearings.

Authorities say DeHaven had been working for a security and logistics company called Catalyst that is staffed by former U.S. military personnel and has contracts with the U.S. government.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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