OSLO - Highlighting the importance of energy for a developing economy like Pakistan, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday sought the Norwegian cooperation in energy sector, particularly in the area of hydro-electric power to cope with the country’s growing energy needs.

“We also discussed the possibility of seeking cooperation from Norway in hydro-electric power, because we are in the process of building more hydro-power projects in Pakistan,” Prime Minister Sharif said while addressing a joint press stakeout with Prime Minister of Norway Mrs Erna Solberg here after a formal round of talks.

The prime minister said Pakistan was facing acute shortage of power, adding, “We hope that we will be able to overcome this problem in the next two to three years.”

The prime minister who is on a three-day visit to Norway to represent Pakistan at the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, at the invitation of his Norwegian counterpart said as Pakistan was a developing economy, it was very important to address this issue as quickly as possible.

He said the two sides discussed a host of subjects in their bilateral meeting, adding, “Prior to the bilateral meeting, we witnessed the signing of a solar power project which will be built in Pakistan with the cooperation of Norway.”

He said it was a private sector project between the two companies of Norway and Pakistan.

The prime minister said during the meeting they also discussed the issues of security, Afghanistan and India.

About the meeting taking place between the Afghan authorities and Taliban, he hoped there would be a positive outcome, which will be helpful for peace and security in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Sharif, while responding to a question, termed the meeting between Afghan authorities and Taliban as a ‘breakthrough’ and said it was an ‘overt’ and not a ‘covert’ meeting. He said it was very important as he also discussed with the Norwegian prime minister that “this process has to succeed.”

The prime minister said there could be certain spoilers, adding but “we should make sure and it is also the obligation of international community, not only Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parties that nobody tries to derail this process”.

To a question about the state of education in Pakistan, the prime minister said, “despite difficulties and problems that we have been countering over the last two years, education remains the top most priority for Pakistan and we have been providing more resources for education”.

He said the provincial governments in Pakistan were also spending 25 percent of their annual budgets on education, adding, the federal government had doubled its allocation for education over the last two years.

The prime minister said despite the problems and challenges faced by the country including terrorism, Pakistan had still managed to improve its literacy rate, check dropout rates and improve the quality of education.

He also referred to the presence of a large number of Afghan refugees in Pakistan as well as the internal displacement of people in the country due to the war against terror and said the government was looking after them.

“Now when they (IDPs) are going back, we have to resettle them for which we need a lot of resources and money,” the prime minister said and maintained, “But we have not applied any cut on education budget.”

The prime minister thanked the Norwegian Prime Minister for inviting him to Oslo and termed his visit “very useful”. He also thanked Norway for hosting the Summit on Education and said it was a very important subject in Pakistan as well.

Norwegian Prime Minister Mrs Erna Solberg in her remarks on the occasion said the two sides, besides discussing the matters of bilateral interest, also talked about a host of other issues.

She said the two countries were desirous of enhancing their ties and cooperation in diverse areas.

Earlier, the two prime ministers witnessed the signing of MoU between Scatec Solar Company of Norway and Nizam Energy of Sindh, that followed delegation level talks in which Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Norwegian Prime Minister Mrs. Erna Solberg led their respective delegations.