External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend the inaugural meeting of the foreign ministers’ conclave of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a powerful grouping of Muslim majority nations, as India has been invited to attend the plenary in Abu Dhabi.
Swaraj will attend the plenary in Abu Dhabi next month. This is the first time that India has been invited to an OIC meeting as a guest of honour.
First time as Guest of Honour!
EAM @SushmaSwaraj will attend 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation as ‘Guest of Honour’ to attend the Inaugural Plenary at the invitation of UAE Foreign Minister.
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) February 23, 2019
India’s presence at OIC is crucial, especially at a time when it has been pitching diplomatic efforts against Pakistan to isolate it internationally following the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. The OIC has usually been supportive of Pakistan and, often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.
Responding to the invitation, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called it 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, reports PTI.
The 46th Session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers will be held in Abu Dhabi from March 1 to 2.
Foreign Minister of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan invited Swaraj as the ‘guest of honour’ to address the inaugural plenary and that India was happy to accept the invitation, MEA said.
“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,” the MEA said in a release.
“We see this invitation as a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE. 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,” it said.
The ministry said that India is happy to accept the invitation and thanked the leadership of the UAE for it.
Last year, Bangladesh proposed the restructuring of the charter of the OIC to pave way for the inclusion of non-Muslim countries like India as an “observer state” of the 50-year old grouping.
However, the Congress expressed surprise that the government was celebrating the invitation to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for the OIC’s inaugural plenary, dubbing it a “misplaced euphoria” and a “futile exercise” to mislead the people of India.