India Iraq

Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar (bottom right) reiterated India’s commitment to help rebuild Iraq at the International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq in Kuwait (M.J. Akbar Twitter photo)

NEW DELHI — India Feb. 14 reassured Iraq of its commitment to help rebuild the war-torn nation, while complimenting Iraq on its victory over the Islamic State terror outfit.

"India responded to the need for humanitarian assistance even while the war was at its peak in Iraq: among other things, in August 2016, we proposed to reconstruct the hospital in Karbala," Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar said while speaking at the International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq in Kuwait.

"India responded to the urgent needs of Iraq for relief and economic reconstruction both directly and as part of international efforts under U.N. auspices," Akbar said, adding that at the urgent appeal of the U.N. secretary general, India contributed $20 million in assistance to the Iraqi people.

He said that under this pledge, India provided milk food supplies through the World Food Program, as well as assistance to Iraqi school children and Iraqi refugees in Syria. It also trained Iraqi Foreign Service officers in diplomacy, and other Iraqi officials in information technology. 

"In addition, India contributed $10 million towards the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq for investments, reconstruction and development in Iraq."

Akbar said that the conference offered an opportunity for the world to congratulate the people and government of Iraq for their historic victory over the "vicious contemporary menace," IS and its allies, "who used a volatile fusion of false ideology and barbaric terrorism to become a regional epicenter of upheaval and violence against innocent civilians and legitimate government."

"We must win both the battle and the argument," he said, adding the answer to terrorism lies in security, prosperity and the reaffirmation of sovereignty, and noting that "the three sustain each other; any indifference or complacency towards any side of this triangle will make the rehabilitation process infructuous."

On behalf of India, Akbar also complimented all those nations which, directly or indirectly, came together to defeat regressive and extremist forces that spread their tentacles far beyond Iraq.

Terming terrorism, fundamentalism and extremism the scourge of the 21st century, he said: "We must be united in our defense of pluralism and civilization without ifs and buts. There is no 'good terrorism' or 'bad terrorism'; all terror is an unmitigated evil. India has always supported a free, democratic, pluralistic, federal and unified Iraq."

Akbar also appealed to the international community for the early adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the U.N.

He said India continued to assist Iraq in capacity building by training Iraqi officials under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation program and, to broad-base services, has also established a Consulate General office in Erbil.

Welcoming Baghdad's announcement that it was now open for investment, Akbar said India would play its part with project-specific proposals.

"We support the important role assigned to private sector investors in rebuilding of the terrorist-affected areas in Iraq," Akbar said, adding India was willing to play a substantive role in major projects in petrochemicals, health, education, infrastructure and other sectors.

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