India in touch with Iraq over help to Indian nationals
The Iraqi envoy to India was called for consultations in the external affairs ministry in the wake of the worsening situation in violence-hit Iraq and ways of helping the Indian community there, including nurses, discussed, an official said.
"The situation in Iraq is receiving attention as a high priority. The External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is monitoring and reviewing the situation of Indian nationals," said external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin at a briefing.
Anil Wadhwa, secretary (east) in the ministry, met Iraqi Ambassador Ahmed Derwari in South Block.
Wadhwa is also chairing a crisis management meeting on the Iraq situation to discuss possible ways to provide ground level help to the Indians there, he added. The Indian government is also keeping its options open for possible evacuation if the situation demands, a source added.
Indian Ambassador in Baghdad, Ajay Kumar, has been in regular touch with the Indians. India also issued an advisory that nobody else should travel to Iraq, Akbaruddin said earlier.
There are 46 Indian nurses stranded in Tikrit - most of them are from Kerala - and 41 construction workers are in Mosul.
India has requested the International Red Crescent to go across to Tikrit and to ensure their (nurses) safety at first hand, Akbaruddin said earlier.
Akbaruddin said: "India is in touch with the UN, International Red Cross, Red Crescent, and with the Iraqi government and would advise them on modalities once the situation is slightly better."
Al-Qaeda-inspired militants have overrun the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit threatening the security and territorial integrity of the country. They are proceeding towards Baghdad.
On Monday India had voiced its strong condemnation of attacks by terrorist outfits in Iraq, saying that the takeover of cities such as Mosul and Tikrit was a direct threat to security and territorial integrity of the West Asian country.
On Tuesday, Baquba, capital of Diyala province, 60 km from Baghdad, saw Sunni militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) take control of several districts on the western outskirts of the city before government troops and allied Shia militia regained control, according to reports.
The US and Iran are actively considering ways to help the Iraqi government tackle the situation. - IANS