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By Ray Fleming

THERE are banks that are too big to be allowed to go broke and it now appears that there are diplomatic incidents too sensitive to be allowed to spoil relations between the countries concerned.

In January Raymond Davis, a covert CIA agent in Pakistan, shot two men he said were trying to rob him; although the US embassy claimed he had diplomatic status and should be released, the Pakistan government said he was not a diplomat and imprisoned him pending trial for murder.

This week Mr Davis was released and put on a plane home following an agreement with the families of the two men he shot; under Islamic law they agreed to pardon him in return for compensation (”blood money”) amounting to US$2.4 million. All very neat and tidy, except over the question of who will pay. Some sources said Pakistan had handed over the money but would be reimbursed by America. Hillary Clinton denied that the US was involved in the payment. Of course, a mere US2.4 million would hardly be noticed in the billions that America gives to Pakistan in aid every year.

The American Embassy apologised profusely and a former Pakistan ambassador in Washington said, “Too much was at stake for both countries to let relations become a hostage to this issue.” Quite.