The visit, on the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, may see the two countries ink an agreement on energy cooperation, officials said here Wednesday.
The visit by Iraq's Shiite prime minister comes as India's oil imports from Baghdad have increased substantially. At USD 20 billion, Iraq is the second largest crude supplier to India. In comparison, India's oil imports from sanction-hit Iran have dipped to eighth position.
In 2006, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions after Iran refused to suspend its enrichment program. U.S. sanctions targeted investments in oil, gas and petrochemicals, exports of refined petroleum products, etc.
The last high level bilateral visit was by former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi to Baghdad in 1975.
Maliki will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, call on President Pranab Mukherjee and meet Vice President Hamid Ansari and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid while Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj will call on him, said external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.
India-Iraq bilateral trade stands at USD 21 billion, a quantum jump from USD 5 billion in 2006-07. The visit is important as both countries are looking to take their relationship "beyond the buyer-seller relationship", said Akbaruddin.
Maliki's visit comes a few days after Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Oil Hussain Ibrahim Saleh al-Shahristani's trip to Mumbai.
According to Mridul Kumar, Joint Secretary Gulf Division in the ministry, Shahristani had defined the scope of their bilateral ties when he said that "Iraq wants to be a reliable partner for India in the energy sector".
India has also offered to help in reconstruction of Iraq - focusing on destroyed infrastructure like airports, highways, ports, etc, said the official.
Both countries are expected to ink an agreement on water resources management.
Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M. Veerappa Moily had led a 28-member delegation to the India-Iraq Joint Commission meeting in Baghdad in June, during which both sides identified areas, including cooperation in energy sector. Khurshid had also visited Iraq June 19-20.
With the water structure of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers badly destroyed in the long years of war, Iraq has approached India for help in rebuilding them, said the official.
"With the water structure destroyed, Iraq has to import food from neighbouring countries, including Turkey. Iraq can again become the cradle of civilisation...Its resources have been completely devastated. An agreement has been finalised on water resources management," said Kumar, adding it is expected to be inked.
Maliki will also address a business lunch with ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI Friday to seek Indian investment in his country.
Around 10,000-12,000 Indians live in Iraq. Asked about the security of Indians and Indian ventures in Iraq, Kumar said "these considerations would be taken into account" by the Iraqi authorities and by Indian business leaders.
Maliki will also visit Agra and Mumbai.
--IANS (Posted on 21-08-2013)