In a first, India to be ‘guest of honour’ at OIC meeting

Published: February 24, 2019
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India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is set to attend the two-day meeting in Abu Dhabi on March 1. PHOTO: FILE

India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is set to attend the two-day meeting in Abu Dhabi on March 1. PHOTO: FILE

India, for the first time,  has received an invite as the “guest of honour” to the upcoming foreign ministers’ conclave of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), according to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is set to attend the OIC meeting in Abu Dhabi, capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on March 1, NDTV reported.

The two-day session will see the participation of 56 member states and five observer states. The MEA, on receiving the invitation, called it “a welcome recognition by OIC.”

According to a statement issued by the UAE, foreign ministers will discuss a range of issues regarding peace and stability in the Muslim world.

“The friendly country of India has been named as the guest of honour in view of its great global political stature as well as its time-honoured and deeply rooted cultural and historical legacy, and its important Islamic component,” the communique read.

It is the first time that India has been invited to a meeting of the OIC as a guest of honour, reported Press Trust of India.

Govt uses back-channel to send ‘positive note’ to India

The Pakistani government has begun backdoor contacts with India and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is currently in India, has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sushma Swaraj.

Vankwani also met Minster of State for External Affairs General VK Singh, the four-star general who has also served as the Indian army chief.

“I have communicated a positive note to the Indian leaders and I hope there will now be a change in their behaviour,” Vankwani said on Saturday while talking to The Express Tribune over telephone.

The Sindh-based PTI leader, who is a lawmaker on minority seat, is on a religious trip amid heightened tensions between the two rival countries in the wake of February 14 suicide attack that killed at least 40 paramilitary forces in occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Trump alarmed by ‘very dangerous situation’ between Pakistan, India

Vankwani said he encountered Modi during an event and the Indian PM met him warmly. He said he told Modi that he had come with a positive message and wanted to return with a positive message. He said later on Modi’s directive, Sushma Swaraj also held a 25-minute-long meeting with him.

“I told the Indian foreign minister that in Pakistan its captain’s [Prime Minister Imran Khan] government now; he is a Pathan and he does what he says. We assure you that no Pakistani institution is involved in Pulwama attack. If India provides evidence, we will facilitate the investigation,” Vankwani said.

According to the minister, he told Swaraj that the two countries need to take lessons from past and not to hold on to it. “Enmity can be brought to an end by befriending the enemy,” he said, adding that he himself has returned after Ganga Ashnan (ablution) and never tells lies.

US President Donald Trump on Friday voiced alarm at the “very dangerous situation” between Islamabad and New Delhi following the Pulwama attack.

“It’s very dangerous situation between the two countries,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “Right now there are a lot of problems between India and Pakistan because of what happened.”

This story originally appeared in NDTV with additional input from PTI

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