Salman Khurshid meets Prime Minister of Iraq in Baghdad

Baghdad, June 20 (ANI): The visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid met Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al Maliki in Baghdad on Thursday.

Khurshid is presently on a two-day official visit to Baghdad at the invitation of the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Iraq Hoshiyar Zebari.

Ahead of landing in Baghdad, Khurshid hailed the valuable and rich history of relationship between the two countries.

"We have had very good relationship with Iraq and there is no reason why that very good relationship should not continue, indeed, should not be strengthened and why we cannot be very close partners once again," Khurshid told the media onboard.

"As it is we are apart from a very valuable and rich history with them of our relationship, today in terms of energy security we have an important partnership with Iraq and, therefore, we need to give an attention," he added.

Khurshid said he also hopes that the major spate of two-way traffic between India and Iraq at the highest level could be triggered off.

"I am going there and I hope that we can trigger off major spate of two-way traffic between India and Iraq at the highest level," he said.

This is the first high-level official visit from India to Iraq since 2003. At the level of External Affairs Minister, the last visit was of the then External Affairs Minister, I.K Gujral in 1990 in connection with the evacuation of Indians in the wake of Gulf war.

During this visit, Khurshid will hold discussions with Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

He is also expected to call on Deputy Prime Minister Hussain Ibrahim Saleh al-Shahristani among others.

India and Iraq enjoy time-tested, warm and friendly ties underpinned by close people to people contact and growing cooperation in different fields including hydrocarbons, water resources, education, healthcare and project exports.

Iraq has now emerged as India's second largest crude oil supplier. India remains committed to support the ongoing post-war reconstruction and development efforts in Iraq. (ANI)

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