Iraq Foreign Minister Dr Ibrahim al-Jaafari arrived in New Delhi on Monday as part of his five day visit to the country. Al-Jaafari, who is accompanied by a delegation of senior-level official, held bilateral talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj earlier today at the Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan, reported news agency ANI. The two discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest.
In a statement ahead the Iraqi Foreign Minister’s visit, the MEA had said: “India and Iraq have historically enjoyed close and friendly political, economic and cultural ties. Our robust bilateral trade amounted to nearly $13 billion in 2016-17. Iraq contributes significantly to India’s energy security and is the second-largest supplier of crude oil to us (over 37 MMT during 2016-17). Thousands of Indians visit Iraq annually for pilgrimage to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.” India exports several products to Iraq including iron and steel, meat products, pharmaceutical products, agro chemicals, and gems and jewellery. Iraq is one of the major suppliers of crude oil to India.
During the meeting with the Iraqi minister, Sushma Swaraj may have brought up the 39 Indians kidnapped by the Islamic State group from Mosul city in 2014. Two weeks ago, after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced liberation of Mosul from the IS, Indian and Iraqi authorities intensified efforts to track down the missing Indians who were believed to be held in Badush jail. However, media reports claimed last week that the jail has been destroyed. Read: Thirty-nine missing Indians in Iraq: After latest reports from Mosul, families question MEA claims. Click here.
At around 3 pm Monday, al-Jaafari will meet Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan at the ministry in Shastri Bhawan. At 4 pm, he is expected to call on Vice-President Hamid Ansari. On Tuesday, the second day of his visit, the Iraq Foreign Minister will attend a programme in Delhi before travelling to Mumbai. He will be in Mumbai for one day. He will return to Delhi on Thursday, from where he will depart to Israel.
(With inputs from agencies)