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The Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's congratulatory phone call to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan earlier this week.

Modi, in his phone call, had told Khan that India is "ready to enter a new era of relations with Pakistan" and that both countries should adopt a joint strategy for progress in bilateral ties.

FO Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal during a weekly briefing in Islamabad today said that he hoped the phone call would pave the way for bilateral talks between India and Pakistan.

He also hoped that it would lead to an improvement in ties with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) member states, including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka, in addition to India.

Ties with Saarc member states have been tenuous since the 19th summit ─ which was to be held in Pakistan in 2016 ─ was cancelled after India boycotted the event, causing Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan to also pull out.

Earlier this week, the PTI had been deliberating inviting foreign dignitaries ─ including heads of Saarc member states ─ to Imran Khan's oath-taking ceremony expected to take place on August 15, but decided against it today.

In earlier discussions with the FO, PTI leaders were told that extending invitations to heads of state is a sensitive matter. During meetings between the foreign secretary and PTI leaders Shireen Mazari and Shafqat Mahmood, the possibility of India declining the invitation also came up, with the FO suggesting that Pakistan would face embarrassment in such a situation.

However, if India was not invited, FO officials believed that it would convince the other Saarc countries to not attend the event either.

Dr Mohammad Faisal today said that foreign heads of state have not been invited to attend the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected prime minister.

The FO spokesperson also said that Pakistan is witnessing a continuous journey towards the consolidation of democracy as it transitions to the next democratically-elected government, Radio Pakistan reported.