Wednesday,15 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1134, 7 - 13 February 2013
Wednesday,15 August, 2018
Issue 1134, 7 - 13 February 2013

Ahram Weekly

Talking shop

The two-day summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation ends today, Reem Leila reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

The 12th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) opened in Cairo yesterday. Fifty delegations from the 56-state organisation were expected to attend the two-day meeting during which Senegal will hand the chairmanship of the OIC to Egypt.
President Mohamed Morsi is heading the Egyptian delegation at the summit.
“Egypt is keen to take up the chair for the next three years,” says Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for Islamic Cooperation Amr Ramadan.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will attend the summit. He will be the first Iranian leader to visit Egypt since 1979, when the Iranian revolution overthrew Shah Mohamed Rezla Pavlavi.
President Morsi received Ahmadinejad at the airport, where he kissed the Iranian president immediately after he landed at Cairo Airport and gave him a red carpet reception with military honours. Ahmadinejad beamed as he shook hands with waiting dignitaries.
Both presidents are expected to hold talks today on the sidelines of the summit of heads of state and government of the OIC.
During Ahmadinejad’s visit to Cairo which began on Tuesday, he met Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb hours after his arrival. “They discussed the role of Al-Azhar in promoting Islamic causes and prospects for cooperation,” said a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
It was reported that Al-Tayeb urged the Iranian president to refrain from interfering in the affairs of Gulf Arab states, and to recognise Bahrain as a “sisterly Arab nation”. In a statement issued by Al-Azhar, Al-Tayeb expressed his rejection of the extension of Shia Muslim influence in Sunni countries.
Relations between Iran and Egypt began to improve after the election of Morsi, who assumed office on 30 June 2012. However, full diplomatic relations between both countries have not yet been restored.
“Syria will not be attending the summit,” says Ramadan. “Its membership was suspended after a majority of members agreed on the action. The suspension sent a strong message to the Syrian regime about the importance of listening to the people’s demands for freedom and justice.”
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be attending the summit despite recent tensions between Egypt and the UAE, though it is sending a small delegation.
“Yes, there are tensions,” points out Ramadan, “but this does not mean that diplomatic relations cease. There were similar problems with Saudi Arabia during the time of President Gamal Abdel-Nasser, and Libya during the regime of Anwar Al-Sadat. We are brother countries. It is possible for brothers to disagree on certain issues but they never cut their relationship.”
This year’s summit meets under the banner “The Islamic world: new challenges and growing opportunities”. Delegates are expected to discuss ongoing conflicts in the Islamic world, including Israel’s ongoing building of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
“OIC leaders have submitted proposals seeking to end to this complicated issue,” says Ramadan.
The summit agenda, according to Ramadan, will focus on five areas: conflicts and disputes in the Islamic world; ways to combat religious intolerance and Islamophobia; humanitarian issues in the Islamic world; economic and trade cooperation between member states and promoting scientific and technological cooperation between Islamic countries.
“Among the topics due to be discussed is the conflict in Mali, Sudan’s ongoing peace process with South Sudan, Somalia’s counter-insurrection and recovery and the situation in Afghanistan,” says Ramadan.
The OIC summit is convening in the Cairo suburb of Al-Tagammu Al-Khamis, well away from sites that have seen clashes between Egyptian protesters and police.
Nazih Negari, official spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, told Al-Ahram Weekly the summit will conclude with a final statement, the Cairo Declaration, which will include all resolutions agreed by the participating delegations.
The declaration will also incorporate recommendations for Islamic countries which are not members of the OIC. Condemnation of terrorism, commitment to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and greater respect for human rights will feature prominently.
“State members will coordinate over various tasks. Djibouti will assume the presidency of OIC’s ministerial council to avoid duplication. State members will exert their best efforts to promote cooperation between OIC member states and continue restructuring the organisation,” says Negari.
The summit will also elect a new secretary-general to replace Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu whose term ends this year. 
“There are three African and one Saudi candidate, Iyad Madani, a former minister of information, nominated for the post,” says Ramadan. It is, he adds, Africa’s turn to take the OIC secretary-generalship.

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