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Iraq assures India over oil supplies

Iraq has assured India of fulfilling the demand for oil supplies and vowed to enhance economic relations.

"The Iraqi government has reassured the Indian side that Iraq will meet its oil demands, as well as its future needs," reported Xinhua citing Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari during a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid who arrived here late Wednesday on an official visit.

The Indian external affairs minister is on a two-day official visit to Baghdad. The visit is part of efforts by India to engage with Iraq at the highest level and deepen ties with the oil-rich country.

Iraq is currently exporting more than $20 billion worth of oil to India. However, Indian exports are only a little more than $1 billion.

Khurshid met Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and discussed with the Iraqi officials bilateral relations and about participation of Indian companies in Iraq's reconstruction, the Iraqi minister said.

Khurshid said that India "does not just want to be in a relationship of trade and business with Iraq, we want to be partners and we will look at all possibilities in every field to work together as partners".

He also said that he extended a letter of invitation to al-Maliki to visit India, saying that he hoped to see him in India "after Ramadan (in mid-August) and that would give us enormous opportunity to welcome the first democratically elected prime minister of Iraq who would then become a part of a very important history between India and Iraq".

Khurshid's visit to Iraq is the first for a senior Indian official in more than two decades. In 1990, then Indian external affairs minister I.K. Gujral had visited Iraq to help evacuate the Indian nationals due to the outbreak of the Gulf War.