May 27, 2005


India edges back into Iraq (Siddharth Srivastava, 5/28/05, Asia Times)

Quietly but surely, India is reopening its diplomatic contacts with the new Iraqi administration. In the first official contact with the new Iraqi government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy for West Asia, C R Gharekhan, met Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari earlier this week. While India has offered to help in rebuilding the war-ravaged country and in the drafting of its new constitution, it is also seeking to cut into the estimated US$100 billion reconstruction business. India hopes to garner as much as $10 billion.

During his meeting with Jaafari, Gharekhan handed over a personal letter from Singh emphasizing India's commitment to cooperate with Iraq on the task of national reconstruction. In the letter, Singh invited Jaafari to visit India, a gesture that Jaafari reciprocated by inviting the Indian premier to Iraq. Gharekhan suggested that Jaafari assign the Iraqi oil minister to lead a delegation to India for the next meeting of the India-Iraq Joint Commission. Jaafari, who has studied Mahatma Gandhi's life and teachings, spoke warmly about Indo-Iraq ties and said he supported UN reforms including the expansion of the Security Council while emphasizing India's "important position" in world affairs.

The new government in Baghdad has already indicated that it is more than willing to welcome back Indian businessmen, in order to re-establish thriving Indo-Iraq economic ties that took a hit after the US-led invasion in 2003.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 27, 2005 6:02 AM
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