Sun, 21 Apr 2019

U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has said he will urge President Donald Trump to meet with the Pakistani prime minister to reset long-difficult U.S. relations with Pakistan and push for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke in Islamabad on January 20 after meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The comments come amid efforts to press on with talks between the Taliban and the United States aimed at an agreement to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

'I think they will hit it off' if they meet as they have 'similar personalities,' said Graham, who has generally been a staunch supporter of Trump, of the proposed meeting between the U.S. president and Khan.

'With Prime Minister Khan we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship,' he told a press conference.

The senator called for a 'strategic engagement' between Washington and Islamabad that would include a free-trade agreement.

The United States and Afghanistan have repeatedly accused Pakistan of providing 'safe havens' for the Taliban on its soil. Islamabad rejects the allegation.

Graham's trip to Pakistan coincided with a four-day visit by Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, during which he met with Khan and the country's military chief General Qamer Javed Bajwa.

At the talks, Pakistan and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to advance the Afghan peace process,' the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.

Khalilzad has recently held a series of meetings with the Taliban's political office in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The Taliban have long refused to hold direct talks with Afghan officials, whom they dismiss as 'puppets.'

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters RFE/RL

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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