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Vikas Kalyani asked: What is present state of relationship between India & Iraq, and what are the future prospects?

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  • Prasanta Kumar Pradhan replies: India and Iraq have enjoyed a very friendly relationship in the past. In the post-war scenario, India is trying to rebuild its ties with Iraq which was interrupted because of the war and instability in the country. India has sent an envoy to Baghdad and full fledged diplomatic ties are now in place. Though high level bilateral visits have not taken place in recent times, visits of officials do happen at regular intervals. Presently, India is deeply engaged in post-war relief and reconstruction activities in Iraq. In response to the UN Secretary General’s urgent appeal, India has committed US$ 20 million to Iraq. Additionally, India has also contributed US$ 10 million towards the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI).

    India’s economic engagement with Iraq is also increasing steadily with bilateral trade going up from US$ 7.1 billion in 2007-08 to US$ 19.7 billion in 2011-12. Iraq is also the second largest supplier of oil to India, supplying over 23 million tons of oil in the year 2011-12. As Iraq slowly makes moves towards peace and stability, the prospects for future cooperation in various fields also grows. There is huge scope for both the countries to further enhance their bilateral trade and business ties. Similarly, cooperation in the energy sector is also promising for both India and Iraq. India has offered its help in rebuilding Iraqi institutions as well as providing education and training to Iraqi students and officials. However, there is a long way to go before India and Iraq fully regain their old ties. It is time for both the countries to further engage each other and explore new areas of cooperation for mutual benefit.