Abu Dhabi, Mar 1 : External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived here to a grand red carpet welcome to attend the inaugural plenary of the 46th session of the council of foreign ministers of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Ms Swaraj has been invited as the 'guest of honour'. She will be the first Indian foreign minister to attend any OIC meet.
"Recognising India’s engagement with the Islamic world," tweeted MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar on her arrival here with a snap of Ms Swaraj being received at the airport.
Ms Swaraj has been invited by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of UAE as the 'Guest of Honour' for the inaugural session. UAE Foreign Minister will open the OIC meet in the presence of Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Dr Yousef Al-Othaimeen.
"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," an MEA statement said last week.
This gesture from the OIC and UAE which more often in the past has taken an indifferent approach to India only reflects "India's growing diplomatic influence".
The 46th OIC session this year will be held under the theme: "Fifty years of Islamic cooperation: the road map for prosperity and development", coinciding with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the organisation.
Diplomatic sources said India-UAE bilateral relations have received impetus from time-to-time with exchange of high-level visits from both sides. "The historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to UAE in August 2015 marked the beginning of a new and comprehensive and strategic partnership. In the Joint Statement issued after the visit, both leaders agreed to work together not only to consolidate achievements in the existing domains but also to explore newer areas of cooperation," the source said.
During her stay in Abu Dhabi, besides the OIC meet, Ms Swaraj will also engage in a few bilateral talks including with UAE. (UNI)