For the first time OIC invites India, Sushma Swaraj to attend
New Delhi, Feb 23 (UNI/IBNS) : India on Saturday accepted the invitation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to attend the 46th session of council of foreign ministers of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on March 1 and 2 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," an MEA statement said here.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will be attending the meet as a 'guest of honour', it confirmed.
Notably, the UAE has sought to record its recognition and appreciation of India in the contemporary setting and said Swaraj's presence at the OIC meet will mark presence of "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".
"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,"the MEA statement said.
Sources said it is for the first time, the coveted grouping of Islamic nations have invited India to be an 'observer' for this year's session.
"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," the statement said.
This gesture from the OIC which more often in the past has taken an indifferent approach to India only reflects "India's growing diplomatic influence".
Swaraj has been invited by UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to be the guest of honour and address the inaugural session, an MEA statement said here on Saturday.
The 46th OIC session this year will be held under the theme: "Fifty years of Islamic cooperation: the road map for prosperity and development", coinciding with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the organisation.
Diplomatic sources said India-UAE bilateral relations have received impetus from time-to-time with exchange of high-level visits from both sides.
"The historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to UAE in August 2015 marked the beginning of a new and comprehensive and strategic partnership. In the Joint Statement issued after the visit, both leaders agreed to work together not only to consolidate achievements in the existing domains but also to explore newer areas of cooperation," the source said.
UAE Foreign Minister will open the OIC meeting on March 1 (next Friday) in the presence of Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Dr Yousef Al-Othaimeen.
Representatives from 56 member states and five observer states are expected to attend the two-day meet.