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India seeks Iraq help in release of abducted Indians 

New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) India has sought the release of 39 Indians abducted in Iraq while expressing support for “unity and territorial integrity of Iraq”, the External Affairs Ministry said on Monday.

Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar, who is on an official visit to Iraq from August 21 to 23, conveyed this while meeting the top Iraqi leadership, according to a statement issued by the ministry.

Among others, Akbar met President Fuad Masum, President of the Council of Representatives Salim al-Jabouri, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Eshaiqer Al-Jaafari, and National Security Advisor Faleh al-Fayyadh.

“During the official meetings, the two sides acknowledged the grave threat posed by international terrorism and its sponsors to international peace and security as also the very architecture of nation state,” the statement said.

Both sides conveyed strong support to each other in their common fight against the menace of terrorism.

“The minister expressed India’s support for the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq and conveyed India’s abiding commitment to the emergence of a stable, peaceful, united and democratic Iraq, which was in the interest of regional and global peace and security,” the statement said.

Akbar also sought Iraq’s assistance “to trace the whereabouts and safe release” of 39 abducted Indians.

“The Iraqi leadership assured of full cooperation and support in the matter,” the statement said.

The 39 Indians were reportedly abducted by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organisation in Iraq in 2014.

The two sides also discussed the entire gamut of bilateral engagement, including economic, trade, investment, energy security, defence, security and counter-terrorism.

Akbar conveyed India’s willingness to partner in the reconstruction of Iraq as also for continued assistance through the Indian government’s well acknowledged capacity-building programmes under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.

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