In a bid to reach out to West Asia where sectarian tensions are running high, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj went to Bahrain Saturday to attend the first ministerial meeting of India-Arab League Cooperation Forum. The meet also assumes significance in the wake of the growing threat of Islamic State in the region.
Sources said this is an opportunity to engage with 22-member countries of Arab League in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, as the region is divided along sectarian lines — especially between regional powers Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“The 22 countries of Arab League are gathering to meet the Indian External Affairs minister. At a time when schism between Shia and Sunni communities is prominent in West Asia, India can be seen as a model by both groups,” a top government source said.
During her two-day visit, Swaraj will also hold bilateral meetings with foreign ministers of a number of Arab League countries. Counter-terrorism cooperation, sources said, is top on agenda. The government is also in talks with some Gulf countries on de-radicalisation of the youth.