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Pakistan frees FBI agent on bail

Was detained for weapons; release aids ties

– Pakistan freed an FBI agent on nearly $10,000 bail three days after he was detained carrying knives and ammunition in his bag, officials said, a relatively quick release that was likely to prevent the situation from escalating into a diplomatic spat.

The arrest of the American, identified as Joel Cox from the bureau’s Miami field office, came amid thawing relations between a new Pakistani government dependent on aid and a U.S. administration that needs Islamabad to help contain militancy on the border with Afghanistan.

The American arrived in Karachi on May 1 and was detained Monday as he was preparing to board a flight to Islamabad.

Shortly after the detention, a law enforcement official in the U.S. said the FBI agent was in Pakistan as part of a multi-agency, anti-corruption program and apparently did not realize that he had bullets in his bag.

A Foreign Ministry official said the agent “was not a diplomat and therefore, had no immunity.” She added he was in Pakistan on a short-term visit and had a valid visa. The two countries, which have been uneasy allies since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, have seen ties strained over a series of incidents.

CIA contractor Raymond Davis shot and killed two Pakistani men in Lahore in January 2011. The U.S. unilaterally killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in May 2011 and American forces accidentally killed 24 Pakistani troops along the Afghan border the same year. U.S. drones strikes in the country also have angered Pakistanis.

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