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Afghanistan still needs US presence: Republican senator

Afghanistan still needs US presence: Republican senator

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Jan 21, 2019 - 09:10

PESHAWAR (Pajhwok) An influential Republican lawmaker says he has seen a positive change in Islamabad’s policy towards Afghanistaninfo-icon, praising Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for a negotiated end to the 17-year-old conflict in the neighbouring country.

Senator Lindsey Graham, who is close to President Donald Trump, appreciated Pakistaninfo-icon's role in ongoing efforts to find a political settlement in Afghanistan at a meeting with Khan in Islamabad on Sunday.

Speaking at a news conference at the US embassy in Islamabad, The South Carolina senator said he would ask President Trump to meet the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan so that they could devise a plan to end the war.

“I think they will hit it off if they meet as they have similar personalities,” Graham said of the proposed meeting between Trump and Khan.

At the meeting, Graham and Khan reviewed the regional security situation. The senator noted with satisfaction the premier's efforts to normalise relations with neighbouring countries.

The Prime Minister’s House, meanwhile, said Khan reiterated his government's commitment to continue working with the US and other regional stakeholders to find a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

“I can tell you I have seen things changed all in the positive direction. To those who say things are not better is not fair … 5.000 Pakistani soldiers died fighting the common enemy (terrorism,” he said.

While doubting reports that half of US troops in Afghanistan would be withdrawn soon, the visiting dignitary insisted the war-devastated still needed an American military presence.

During a separate meeting, Graham and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi exchanged views on bilateral cooperation, the current situation in Afghanistan, as well as regional and international issues.

Graham's trip comes hard on the heels of US Spe­cial Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad's visit to Pakistan, where he met Khan, Qureshi, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

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