Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s congratulatory phone call to Prime Minister in-waiting Imran Khan earlier this week and said it hopes that the gesture will pave the way for bilateral talks.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal during a weekly briefing here said that he hoped the phone call will help improve ties with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) member states.

Modi, in his phone call, had told Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Khan that India was “ready to enter a new era of relations with Islamabad” and that both countries should adopt a joint strategy for progress in bilateral ties.

Islamabad’s ties with Saarc member states have been tenuous since the 19th summit which was supposed to be held in Pakistan in 2016. It was cancelled after India boycotted the event, causing Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan to also pull out, according to Dawn newspaper.

Earlier this week, the PTI had been deliberating inviting foreign dignitaries including heads of Saarc member states to Khan’s oath-taking ceremony, but decided against it on Thursday.

In earlier discussions with the Foreign Office, PTI leaders were told that extending invitations to heads of state was “a sensitive matter”.