In a significant development in the post-Pulwama period Organisation of Islamic Cooperation or OIC for the first time ever has invited India Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to attend 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of as ‘Guest of Honour’ in UAE on March 1-2.
Swaraj has been invited by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates as the “Guest of Honour” to address the Inaugural Plenary in Abu Dhabi.
“We see this invitation as the desire of the enlightened leadership of the UAE to go beyond our rapidly growing close bilateral ties and forge a true multifaceted partnership at the multilateral and international level. We see this invitation as a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE,” according to a statement from Ministry of External Affairs.
“We also see this invitation as a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world. India is, therefore, happy to accept the invitation to attend the Inaugural Plenary of the OIC meeting and we thank the leadership of the UAE for their invitation.”
Over the last few years key OIC members Indonesia, Algeria and Syria among others have been opposed to strong position by OIC on Kashmir. Besides, Bangladesh have been keen that India plays key role in OIC. So does Morocco, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. UAE meanwhile have developed close ties with India. Saudi Arabia, Jordan besides old partner Oman and gas-rich Qatar are emerging key political and economic partners for Delhi. Kuwait last week played a key role in the UN Security Council as non permanent member to support Statement on Pulwama attacks and Jaish. On the other hand Iran has emerged as a strategic partner linking India with Eurasia besides being energy partner. In North Africa, Tunisia is emerging as a business gateway.
The session in Abu Dhabi will be held under the theme: “50 years of Islamic cooperation: the road map for prosperity and development”, coinciding with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the organization.
“HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, will open the session next Friday in the presence of His Excellency the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, with the participation of 56 Member States and five observer States, as well as the friendly Republic of India with all its International political weight and diverse cultural heritage and an important Islamic component, as a guest of honor,” according to a statement by UAE.
During the two-day meeting, the Foreign Ministers will discuss a range of issues, urgent matters, issues of peace and stability in the Muslim world, as well as the integration and cooperation files among the OIC members.
The Council of Foreign Ministers is also considering supporting initiatives to promote peace and security, counter extremism and combat the exploitation of religion and hate speech by inculcating the values of moderation, restraint and tolerance, according to UAE statement, echoing India’s position on the issue.
The theme of the session is consistent with the UAE’s adoption of 2019 as year of tolerance as part of its efforts to promote a culture of coexistence, tolerance and human brotherhood.