Organisation of the Islamic Conference welcomes new UK special envoy appointment

Abdul Nabi Shaheen
Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference has welcomed the appointment of Mohammad Shokat as the new UK special envoy to the world's largest Islamic organisation

Riyadh: The Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Prof. Ekme Al Deen Ihsanoglu has welcomed the appointment of Mohammad Shokat as the new UK special envoy to the world's largest Islamic organisation.

He pledged the full support of the OIC for the new envoy's efforts to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the OIC and Britain.

The 57-member OIC is regarded as the second largest organisation in the world after the UN.

Speaking to Gulf News, a well-informed diplomatic source said that those countries that enjoy observer status at the OIC can participate in all the meetings and deliberations of the organisation.

But they do not have a right to vote or present draft resolutions concerning the member states. "Some states have been incorporated to the OIC with an observer status with an objective of ensuring protection of the rights of Muslim minorities living in those countries.

Britain had approached the OIC early this year with an official request to join the organisation as an observer state," he said, adding that there are also eight other countries, which have also applied for the same.

International relations

The diplomatic source, who requested anonymity, said that the OIC is keen to maintain strong international relations. "This was evident when it granted observer status to Russia in 2005. There are some other countries, such as Belarus, South Africa, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Serbia and Nepal, which are also keen to join the organisation as observers. There is a similar bid, which is semi-official, from Brazil also," he said while highlighting the OIC's existing strong relations with the United States and China.

The bilateral relations between OIC and UK have attained a new impetus with the visit of Prof. Ihsanoglu to that country.

During a four-day official visit that ended on Thursday, he held wide-ranging talks with the British leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague, according to an OIC press statement.

David Cameron

During the meeting with David Cameron and William Hague, the OIC chief discussed issues of mutual concern and ways to further bolster the OIC-UK relations besides strengthening cooperation in a way serving interests of both the sides.

They also exchanged views on the Middle East Peace Process, developments in some countries in Northern Africa and Middle East region such as Libya, Syria and Yemen, in addition to the situation in Afghanistan.

Also, Prof. Ihsanoglu met with prominent figures representing the British Muslim community and exchanged views about their role and activities in the society as a whole.

While commending the services of the British Muslim community, he expressed his strong belief that the Muslims in Britain had set a good example for other Muslims living in rest of the Europe. Prof. Ihsanoglu also met with the ambassadors of the OIC member states based in London, as well as with the representatives of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House.

The OIC chief's visit to UK was in response to an invitation extended by the British Cabinet Minister without Portfolio Baroness Warsi. The visit was in the last leg of a wide-ranging tour that also took him to seven OIC member states in the West Africa region.

June 16, 2011, Gulf news

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