Washington, Mar 17: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has denied that the United States paid any compensation to the relatives of the January 27 Lahore shootout victims to secure the release of CIA contractor Raymond Davis.
"The United States did not pay any compensation. The families of the victims of the incident on January 27th decided to pardon Mr. Davis. And we are very grateful for their decision. And we are very grateful to the people and Government of Pakistan, who have a very strong relationship with us that we are committed to strengthening," Clinton said during an interview with NPR.
When pointed out that the law minister of Pakistan's Punjab Province, which is where the incident took place, said that blood money was paid to get Davis released, Clinton said: "Well, you'll have to ask him what he means by that."
During her remarks to the `travelling press', she assured that a US investigation into the January 27 incident would continue despite Davis' release.
"We also have a Department of Justice investigation that has begun into what happened in Lahore. And we've communicated our strong support for the relationship between Pakistan and the United States, which we consider to be of strategic importance, and are looking forward to continuing to strengthen it based on mutual respect and common interests," said Clinton.
She was asked whether she thought it would be harder for US diplomats to get into Pakistan, as among other reasons, Pakistanis thought she was getting a lot of visas for guys like Davis.
Clinton replied: "Well, Mr. Davis was an Embassy employee, and we will continue to seek visas for Embassy employees who have important functions to perform in furtherance of the work we are doing with the Pakistani Government and on behalf of the Pakistani people."
On being asked whether Pakistani officials have slowed the `issuance of visas down again', she said: "I think we are in a steady stream of visas being requested and granted." (ANI)