In his statement at the media interaction on the occasion of state visit of Prime Minister of Iraq to India in New Delhi, Dr. Singh said that he and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had a productive exchange of views on international developments, especially in West Asia and North Africa.
Dr. Singh said peace, security and stability in this region are vital to both the 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," said Dr. Singh.
"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," he added.
Dr. Singh said the 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," said Dr. Singh.
"As it recovers from recent conflict, it is also emerging as our second largest source of oil, accounting for over 12 percent 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," he added.
Dr. Singh said that he and visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki agreed that the energy trading relationship between the two nations 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," said Dr. Singh.
"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," he added.
Dr. Singh said 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," he added.
Dr. Singh further said 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," said Dr. Singh.
"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," he added.
Welcoming the Iraqi Prime Minister on his first state visit to India, Dr. Singh said India is honoured that the former 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," said Dr. Singh.
"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," he added.
Dr. Singh further said that he looks forward to working with Prime Minister Maliki to further expand and deepen the very special bilateral relations.
--ANI (Posted on 24-08-2013)