NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is set to leave for the UAE on Thursday to participate in Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conclave in Abu Dhabi as the Guest of Honour despite Pakistan's threat to boycott the meeting if India is allowed to attend it.
The conclave will be held from March 1 to 2 and Sushma Swaraj is scheduled to address the plenary of the 46th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, ANI reported.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that he will not attend the OIC conclave if Swaraj participated. It is to be noted that UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan has invited Sushma Swaraj to address the OIC meet.
This is the first time that India has been invited to attend the inaugural plenary of the foreign ministers' conclave of the OIC as the 'guest of honour'. The invitation to External Affairs Minister at this time when the tension between India and Pakistan is at a high is of huge strategic importance because OIC is a powerful grouping of Muslim majority nations.
Calling the invitation a "welcome recognition", the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had 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 making all efforts to to isolate Pakistan internationally at diplomatic level following the ghastly terror attack in Pulwama, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.
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)