India on Saturday said it would seek Iraqi oil in exchange for food under a United Nations-sponsored program.
Indian Oil Minister Ram Naik told reporters ahead of Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadhan's arrival here next week that New Delhi would take up the issue during the visit.
"The issue will be discussed during the meeting of the Indo-Iraq Joint Commission beginning Monday," said Naik, who met his Iraqi counterpart Amer Mohammed Rashid on the sidelines of an oil conference here Saturday.
Ramadhan, the highest-ranking visitor from Baghdad to New Delhi in 25 years, leads a top-level delegation including Rashid and Deputy Foreign Minister Nur Al Weiss.
They will stay in India from November 27 to December 1.
"Since Iraq is facing sanctions from the international community, it is not possible for India to import crude oil from that country," Naik said adding grain could be exchanged for oil "on humanitarian grounds."
Rashid said: "We had preliminary discussions on possible trade of crude between the two countries and feel there are immense possibilities of enhancing it."
The Iraqi minister agreed with his Indian counterpart that developing countries were badly hit by spiraling global oil prices and needed crude at discounted rates.
"Iraq has supported insulating developing economies from high volatility of crude prices," he said.
New Delhi has traditionally had warm ties with Baghdad.
India has concluded more than 150 contracts with Iraq -- valued at more than 280 million dollars -- as part of the UN-sponsored "oil-for-food" program -- NEW DELHI (AFP)
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