New Delhi: In a first, India has been invited as the guest of honour at an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meet.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC to be held in Abu Dhabi on March 1 and 2, 2019
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
Swaraj was invited by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates as the "Guest of Honour” to address the Inaugural Plenary.
"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," said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement.
The MEA thanked UAE for the 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."
Statement from UAE's foriegn ministery said, "Will open session next Friday..with the participation of 56 member states & 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"
The invitation is being viewed as a major development in the wake of the recent Pulwama attack.
In the past, the OIC has issued statements on Kashmir on Pakistan's insistence. In 1969, Indian representative Fakrudin Ali Ahmed was not allowed to attend the final session of OIC meet in Rabat, Morocco at the behest of Pakistan's President, Yahya Khan.
This also shows New Delhi's Look West Policy, which has seen a number of high-level engagements between India and West Asia, is making an impact.