Speaking to reporters during the ongoing visit by his Iraqi counterpart Nouri Al-Maliki, Singh said that Iraq, which already met 12 percent of India's oil imports, would be an ideal partner for joint ventures in oil exploration, petrochemical complexes and fertilizer plants.
New areas of cooperation such as agriculture, water resource management, pharmaceuticals, health care, information technology, infrastructure, low cost housing and trade were also being explored, Singh added.
"India has also been active in the area of capacity building in Iraq, including in higher education and health care. I have reiterated our offer of support for rebuilding and upgrading institutions in Iraq," Singh said.
"Prime Minister Maliki and I also had a productive exchange of views on international developments, especially in West Asia and North Africa," the Prime Minister said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al- Maliki began his six-day India trip on Friday, meeting Singh and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. He invited his Indian counterpart to visit Iraq at a mutually convenient time.
Full text of statement by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Media Interaction:
"Your Excellency, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on his first State visit to India. We are honoured that the Prime Minister has undertaken this visit despite his pressing domestic commitments and continuing turbulence and conflict in Iraq's neighbourhood. We deeply appreciate the importance that Prime Minister Maliki attaches to strengthening the relationship between our two countries.
I conveyed to Prime Minister Maliki our admiration for the resilience and resolve of the people of Iraq, and for his own leadership, as Iraq seeks to recover from war and strife, establish democracy, restore order, improve security and revive its economy.
Relations between India and Iraq rest on a strong foundation. Our historically close links of commerce, culture and spiritualism are complemented by a fund of goodwill between our two people. This alone ensures that ours will always remain a close bond. Iraq has long been one of our most important partners in West Asia. As it recovers from recent conflict, it is also emerging as our second largest source of oil, accounting for over 12pc of our imports last year. The present visit of Prime Minister Maliki is aimed at imparting new dynamism to our relations and their broad-based development.
Prime Minister Maliki and I have agreed that our energy trading relationship should be turned into a strategic partnership, including through joint ventures in oil exploration, petrochemical complexes and fertilizer plants. The Inter-Governmental Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the field of Energy will provide a very strong framework to further diversify our cooperation in this sector and we look forward to concrete progress in the near future.
We also agreed to expand and diversify our economic cooperation, which, as our Joint Commission recently identified, would cover areas such as agriculture, water resource management, pharmaceuticals, health care, information technology, infrastructure, low cost housing and trade.
Iraq was the largest project export destination for Indian companies before the Gulf War. I underlined to Prime Minister Maliki the strong interest of Indian companies to participate in Iraq's reconstruction efforts and its ambitious plans to expand and upgrade its infrastructure.
India has also been active in the area of capacity building in Iraq, including in higher education and health care. I have reiterated our offer of support for rebuilding and upgrading institutions in Iraq.
Today, we have decided to add a new dimension to this relationship by agreeing to share our expertise and knowledge in the field of agriculture and water management.
Prime Minister Maliki and I also had a productive exchange of views on international developments, especially in West Asia and North Africa. Peace, security and stability in this region are vital to both our countries. As democratic and pluralistic societies, India and Iraq face similar threats from radicalism and terrorism. India believes that a strong, stable, peaceful, united and democratic Iraq is in the interest of regional and global peace and security. We have agreed to hold regular dialogue on these developments through Foreign Office Consultations.We also agreed to further strengthen our counter-terrorism and intelligence cooperation.
I look forward to working with Prime Minister Maliki to further expand and deepen our very special bilateral relations.
--IBNS (Posted on 24-08-2013)