In a first, India invited at Organisation of Islamic Cooperation session as 'Guest of Honour'

File photo: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Photograph:( PTI )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 23, 2019, 01.52 PM (IST) Siddhant Sibal

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will be attending OIC's 46th foreign minister meet as the 'Guest of Honour'. The session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers will take place from March 1 to 2 in Abu Dhabi, Dubai.

India has been invited by UAE's foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement said, "We 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 also thanked UAE for its invitation saying New Delhi sees the "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". Adding further, New Delhi said, the invitation is a "milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE".

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Statement from the UAE foreign ministry said, "Will open session next Friday... with the participation of 56 member states and 5 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 honour".

This is a major development since OIC has not been very pro-India and has been issuing statements on Kashmir over Pakistan's insistence. This also shows New Delhi's 'Look West Policy' which has seen a number of high-level engagements between India and West Asia. This, despite a hyphenation between Israel and Palestine, is something that was criticised since it was seen as a policy that could alienate New Delhi in many Arab capitals.

Interestingly, Fakrudin Ali Ahmed as an Indian representative was not allowed to attend the final session of OIC meet in 1969 in Rabat, Morocco at the behest of the then Pak President Yahya Khan.