Shaikh Abdulla BIn Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, are seen with Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India during the OIC meeting in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The UAE called on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to take a stronger role in boosting world peace on Friday.

Amid rising tensions on the border between India and Pakistan this week, foreign ministers from across the region met in Abu Dhabi for the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC - a two-day event starting Friday - to discuss ways to combat hate speech, extremism and the exploitation of religion.

Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the OIC should take a stronger role in consolidating security in his opening speech.

Shaikh Abdullah opened the meeting in the presence of Dr Yousuf Al Othaimeen, secretary general of the organisation, with the participation of 56 member states and five observer states.

During the two-day conference, which coincides with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the OIC, the foreign ministers will discuss a range of issues regarding peace and stability in the Muslim world, as well as the integration and cooperation among the OIC members.

The council will also discuss decisions related to economic, humanitarian, science, technology, legal, regulatory, media, administrative and financial matters, as well as the OIC-2025: Programme of Action.

India has been named as a guest of honour in view not only of it being home to millions of Muslims but also its stature in world politics.

Indian Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, offered peace and called for combating terror in her speech.

“Terrorism and extremism bear different names and labels,” she said. “It uses diverse causes. But in each case, it is driven by distortion of religion, and a misguided belief in its power to succeed. And, so very often, it takes a bigger toll, in the land and among people, whose causes it pretends to serve. There are forces and groups that are instruments of state policy and design.”

The Indian minister said that for 40 years, India had been battling terrorism.

“This is a global challenge, that requires a concerted and comprehensive global effort,” she added. “It must involve every nation, every organisation and all global institutions.

“No state must be allowed to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries, or to use it as an instrument of state policy.”

Swaraj said that each state must fulfil its obligation to cut off the financing of terrorism to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries and infrastructure to prevent terrorist attacks from its territory.

The Indian minister said she carried the greetings of 1.3 billion Indians who were defined by their unity as much as their diversity. She pointed out that this year was special because the OIC was celebrating its 50th year, the UAE was celebrating the Year of Tolerance and India was celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who remains a symbol of non-violence.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, held two phone calls on Thursday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan.

Shaikh Mohammad and the two prime ministers exchanged talks on the recent situation in Kashmir, and Shaikh Mohammad emphasised the need to cool tensions through dialogue. The Abu Dhabi Crown Prince said that the UAE would support relations, noting common historical ties that brought all three countries together. Shaikh Mohammad also underscored the UAE’s keenness to bring peace and stability to India and Pakistan, expressing confidence in the leadership of both countries to prioritise peaceful dialogue.