NEW DELHI: In a first and very significant development, India has been invited to attend the inaugural plenary of the foreign ministers' conclave of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Abu Dhabi as the 'guest of honour'. The invitation is of huge strategic importance because OIC is a powerful grouping of Muslim majority nations.
The event is scheduled from March 1 to 2 and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will represent India at the conclave.
Calling the invitation a "welcome recognition", The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that it recognises the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and the contribution made by them in preserving the pluralistic ethos of the country.
The OIC has invited India at a time when New Delhi is trying its best to use diplomatic ways to isolate Pakistan internationally following the ghastly terror attack in Pulwama, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.
The OIC has always supported Pakistan and often backed Pakistan's stand on the Kashmir issue. The MEA said in a press statement that United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan has invited Swaraj to attend the conclave as the 'guest of honour' and also address the inaugural plenary.
"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 added.
The OIC is made up of 57 countries, majority of which are Muslim majority.
(with PTI inputs)