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US senator calls for free trade agreement with Pakistan

WASHINGTON: A Republican Senator, considered close to US President Donald Trump floated a proposal seeking a free trade agreement (FTA) with Pakistan as an incentive for Islamabad to play a positive role in bringing Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table, ARY News reported on Saturday.

Senator Lindsey Graham, who was in Afghanistan on Dec 21 made clear that he was also worried about a possible US troop reduction in Afghanistan, where 14,000 troops are deployed, in what is known as America’s longest war.

In an interview with CNN, the Senator warned that the US should now focus on the emerging threat of Daesh. ‘It can be done if Taliban are brought to the table and Pakistan can play an important role,’ he said.

“Right now, after having been back from Afghanistan, I can tell you that Daesh is on the rise in Afghanistan. But if Pakistan would help us, we could get Taliban to the table and end the war in Afghanistan. Our presence then would be focused on counter-terrorism, Daesh,” said Graham.

The Afghan war will come to an end if we go to Pakistan and offer a free trade agreement to get them to push the Taliban to the peace table, he added.

“I dare anybody to say that ISIS-K is defeated in Afghanistan,” Graham said, referring to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province, a branch of Islamic State, active in Afghanistan, Reuters reported him as saying.

Graham also said cutting US troop strength in Afghanistan would leave “too few to accomplish the mission of holding Afghanistan together and protecting America from another attack.”

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