Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry spoke to reporters off-camera after the Democratic Policy lunch this afternoon expressing concern about a further deterioration of U.S.- Pakistani relations in the wake of the bin Laden killing.
Kerry said he spoke to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last night, and they talked about trying to leverage this moment into hitting a "reset" button between the two countries.
"We have to be thoughtful about trying to make lemonade out of lemons," he said. He added, "If you want a radical Islamist government having possession of nuclear weapons and running Pakistan, then you can go off in a knee-jerk way that makes matters worse. I'm not making matters worse. And I think we have to be very thoughtful about this.”
Kerry said he was in no way defending the Pakistanis, but he said their cooperation was crucial in being able to track the couriers and survey the compound.
"We just got Osama bin Laden,” he said, emphatically. “And one of the reasons we got him is because we had intelligence people, who were there and able to do the work. If we lose that, then you put America at greater risk in my judgment, so I'd be very careful."
Kerry, who traveled to Pakistan in February to try to negotiate the release of CIA contactor Raymond Davis, said the hostility at that moment "was as high and as tense as I've ever seen it." He said the relationship has been at its "low ebb" in the last few months.
On whether the administration should release a photo of bin Laden, Kerry said it would be "premature."
“Frankly, there's a lot of evidence that there's a pretty broad acceptance that he's dead,” Kerry said, “and I think the facts of this case are pretty compelling, so i think its premature”
He said he had not personally seen the bin Laden photos, but they have been described to him in detail, and they are “graphic.”