India-Iraq friendship to be of equity partners: President

Pranab Mukherjee
Pranab Mukherjee

NEW DELHI: India is looking forward to further strengthening its relations with Iraq as an “equity” partner in areas like oil exploration and petrochemicals, President Pranab Mukherjee said today.

India cherishes its cordial and friendly relations with Iraq, he said when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamil al-Maliki, who is on a three-day visit to the country, called on him here.

“Iraq has become India’s second largest crude oil supplier. This is a mutually beneficial partnership. India desires to elevate the relationship from a buyer-seller into a broad-based one with equity partnership in oil production, joint ventures in oil exploration, petrochemical complexes, fertilizer plants, among others,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement said, quoting the President.

Mukherjee said “different MoUs to be signed during the Iraqi PM’s visit would establish the institutional framework to enhance co-operation between the two countries.”

The President also said India has been a committed partner in Iraq’s progress and development and will remain so as Iraq undertakes its re-construction and rebuilding efforts.

“India remains committed to assisting Iraq in the process of rebuilding its infrastructure and institutions. Indian entrepreneurs and Indian industries are eager to engage with Iraq,” the statement said quoting Mukherjee.

The Iraqi PM said the partnership between the two countries is mutually beneficial as India needs energy and Iraq needs investment to generate employment for its people.

“The Iraqi Prime Minister warmly reciprocated the President’s words and said India and Iraq are two friendly countries seeking to strengthen their relations and maintain a high level of contacts.

“He said India and Iraq complement each other. India needs energy while Iraq needs investment to generate employment. He said India’s experience in democracy has been applauded throughout the world and there is much that Iraq can learn from the Indian experience,” the statement said.

Mukherjee said relations between the two countries date back to the Mesopotamian civilization.

“The two countries have historical ties starting from the great Mesopotamian civilization and thousands of Indians undertake annual pilgrimage to the holy shrines of Najaf and Karbala. With the emergence of democracy in Iraq, relations between the two countries are entering a new phase,” he said.-PTI

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