India has been a committed partner in Iraq’s progress and development and will remain so as the Gulf country undertakes reconstruction and rebuilding, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday.

Interacting with the visiting Prime Minister Nouri Kamil al-Maliki at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mr. Mukherjee said that with the emergence of democracy in Iraq, relations between the two countries were entering a new phase.

The President said Iraq had become India’s second largest crude oil supplier, a mutually beneficial partnership. India desired to elevate the buyer-seller relationship to a broad-based level with equity partnership in oil production, and joint ventures in oil exploration, petrochemical complexes and fertilizer plants etc., the President was quoted having told the dignitary.

Agreements to be inked during Mr. al-Maliki’s visit would establish the institutional framework to enhance co-operation, Mr. Mukherjee said, adding Indian entrepreneurs and industries were eager to engage with Iraq.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, reciprocating his sentiments, said India and Iraq were friendly countries seeking to strengthen their relationship and maintaining a high level of contacts. He said they could complement each other: while India needs energy, Iraq needs investment to generate employment. Mr. al-Maliki said India’s experience with democracy was applauded throughout the world and there was much that Iraq could learn from it.

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