WASHINGTON - Leading Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has said that tremendous business opportunities existed between Pakistan and the US through a free trade agreement tied to the mutual security interests.

The US Senator called on Prime Minister Imran Khan at Pakistan House in Washington on Monday. Senator Graham chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Prime Minister and Senator Graham discussed bilateral relations and the regional situation. The Prime Minister appreciated Senator Graham’s efforts and support for strengthening Pakistan-US relations.

Prime Minister Khan apprised the Senator of his government’s development and economic priorities. He said Pakistan desired a broad-based relationship with the United States that safeguarded the two countries’ interests and promoted win-win cooperation in areas ranging from the economy to trade and investment to energy and education. The Prime Minister said Pakistan had paid a high price because of instability in Afghanistan. Pakistan desired peace in Afghanistan and was fully committed to working with the United States in achieving a political settlement in Afghanistan.

Senator Graham agreed with the Prime Minister that sustained and high-level engagement between Pakistan and the United States were to the two countries’ mutual advantage. He appreciated Pakistan’s support for the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The Senator said the marked improvement in Pakistan’s security environment was a result of its successful counterterrorism operations and efforts to secure the Pak-Afghan border.  Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Ambassador Asad M Khan were also present in the meeting.

Senator, a top ally of the president on Capitol Hill, played a key role in arranging the White House meeting, according to Pakistani officials. Graham said he was “blown away” by Imran Khan when he visited Islamabad in January and praised what he saw as a change in Pakistan’s security policies.

Graham, who often golfs with the president, pledged at the time to urge the US leader to see Mr Khan. “I think they will hit it off. Similar personalities,” he said. In that perspective, Graham visited Mr Khan in Washington on Monday at the residence of the Pakistani ambassador.

After the meeting, Graham said on Twitter: “In my opinion he and his government represent the best opportunity in decades to have a beneficial strategic relationship with the US.” Senator Graham said tremendous business opportunities existed between Pakistan and the US through a free trade agreement tied to our mutual security interests. It’s also our best chance in decades to reset the relationship between the two countries, he added.