Iraqi PM Maliki arriving Thursday

Last Updated: Wed, Aug 21, 2013 13:10 hrs

New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANS) Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is arriving in India Thursday on a four-day visit, the first such high-level bilateral visit between the two countries in 38 years.

Maliki is coming to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The visit by Iraq's Shiite prime minister comes as India's oil imports from Baghdad have increased substantially. Iraq is the second largest crude supplier to India, with oil imports standing at $20 billion. In comparison, India's oil imports from sanction-hit Iran have dipped to eighth position

The last high level bilateral visit was by former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi to Baghdad in 1975.

Maliki wil meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, call on President Pranab Mukherjee and meet Vice President Hamid Ansari, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj will call on him, said external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin here Wednesday.

India-Iraq bilateral trade stands at $21 billion, a quantum jump from $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 also comes a few days after the visit by the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Oil Hussain Ibrahim Saleh al-Shahristani to Mumbai.

Both countries are expected to ink an agreement in energy coopertion during the visit as well as on water resources management, said the spokesperson.

Maliki will also address a business lunch with the ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI, he said. He will also visit Agra and Mumbai

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