ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his desire to nurture closer economic and cultural relations with Nepal, proposing formation of joint economic commission to remove obstacles in boosting relations between the two Saarc states.

Prime Minister Sharif was talking to Nepalese Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Panday who called on him here at the PM’s House here on Thursday.

The prime minister said Pakistan wishes to nurture closer economic and cultural relations between the two countries. He said bilateral trade between Pakistan and Nepal was not reflective of the mutual political ties while the potential existing in both the countries should be made more effective through institutional mechanisms such as Joint Economic Commission.

The prime minister said that apart from strengthening bilateral relations with Nepal, Pakistan was particularly keen to promote Saarc activities in partnership with Nepal. Resolution of disputes among the Saarc countries was important for the progress of Saarc and Nepal could play its due role in this regard, he said.

It was also acknowledged at the meeting that it was important for the Saarc to develop economic partnership with major countries within the region.

Panday handed over an invitation to the prime minister to participate in the 18th Saarc Summit being held in Kathmandu in November. He also conveyed the best wishes and greetings of Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and expressed the desire to further strengthen and develop bilateral relations. The prime minister reciprocated these sentiments while conveying the best wishes for a successful Saarc Summit.

Ambassador of Nepal to Pakistan Bharat Raj Paudyal and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi also attended the meeting.