OIC meeting: Sheikh Abdullah warns Iran to stop spreading chaos in the Middle East

UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation was speaking at the opening of the conference in Abu Dhabi

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Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, opened the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Abu Dhabi on Friday with a warning to Iran to stop spreading chaos across the Middle East.

"We call on Iran to review its policies and non-interference in the affairs of states and stop the spread of chaos and sectarianism," he said, referring to Iran's backing of proxy groups in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

Sheikh Abdullah opened the meeting in the presence of Dr Yousef Al Othaimeen, secretary general of the organisation, with the participation of 56 member states and five observer states. Also in attendance was Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

He said that “member states of the OIC and the world are facing threatening conflicts".

Mr Al Jubeir pointed out that the conference offers an opportunity for cooperation among member states.

“The OIC meeting presents a chance for states to overcome these challenges and to build safe and stable communities,” he said to reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

Mr Al-Othaimeen thanked the UAE and Saudi Arabia for their support of the OIC's goals of promoting Islamic solidarity.

The two-day conference will coincide with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the OIC. The head of the Islamic body said member states' foreign ministers will discuss 131 draft resolutions based on promoting peace and stability in the region.

The issue of Palestine and Jerusalem will also be a key topic of the conference.

"Palestine is a critical issue facing Islamic countries," Sheikh Abdullah said during the opening session.

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

The OIC will also be working towards combatting terrorism in African countries as well as curbing Islamophobia and alleviating the suffering to abused Muslim communities around the world.

Meanwhile, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj attended the meeting despite tensions with Pakistan over Kashmir, where both sides claimed to have down the each others' jets this week.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Friday he would not attend this weekend because his Indian counterpart had been invited to the event.

"I will not go to the council of foreign ministers," Mr Qureshi told parliament, adding that lower ranking officials would attend to represent Pakistan's interests.

The escalation between Indian and Pakistan was sparked after a suicide bombing in Kashmir on February 14 that targeted Indian paramilitary forces. Then both sides claimed they had shot down each other’s fighter jets on Wednesday, and Pakistan subsequently captured an Indian pilot.

Pakistan confirmed that that it will hand over the captured Indian pilot on Friday, in a bid to diffuse the situation.