ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed his strong desire to further strengthen close and cooperative relations with Australia in all fields.

He was talking to Foreign Minister of Australia, Julie Bishop, who called on him here at PM House on Thursday.

The visiting minister informed the prime minister appreciated the government's reform agenda which has resulted in economic growth and increased job opportunities across the country. The prime minister said that all economic indicators are quite encouraging. Our growth rate is increasing gradually, which we expect to go further up in the coming years. Foreign exchange reserves have almost doubled during the tenure of this government.

The prime minister said Pakistan's economy has suffered badly at the hands of terrorism that is why we decided to launch an operation against terrorists which is going on very successfully and has almost eliminated their network, hideouts and sanctuaries. Those who kill innocent people do not deserve any mercy, he said.

Over the years, he said, we have also laid down thousands of lives in this cause and will not rest until we completely eliminate the entire network of terrorists and their abettors.

The Australian foreign minister said there is lot of potential that is yet to be realized, especially among the business communities of the two countries as well as exchange of high-level delegations, people to contact and parliamentary exchanges.

The prime minister appreciated the support and cooperation of the Australian government especially for the Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs).

He said Pakistan's industry is suffering because of lack of energy and the government is taking urgent steps to meet energy shortage. He expressed the confidence that power outages would be done away with during the tenure of this government. Bishhop thanked Pakistan for extending cooperation to Australia in important fields like counter terrorism, drug trafficking, trans-national crime, human smuggling and organized crime and wish to strengthen relations in these fields.

The prime minister said Pakistan would be pleased to extend more cooperation in all these fields. The Australian foreign minister said Australia hopes the initiatives taken by the prime minister would help improve relations between India and Pakistan leading to resolution of long outstanding disputes.

She also invited the prime minister to visit Australia at a time of his convenience proposing to bring along a business delegation so that the focus of the visit remains strengthening of economic and trade ties.

Matters relating to regional situation also came under discussion.

The prime minister asked her to convey his greetings to the Australian prime minister.