New Delhi: In a first, India has been invited as the guest of honour at an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation or OIC meet. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend the 46th session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, which will begin from March 1 in Abu Dhabi.

” We 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,” the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

India also thanked UAE for its invitation saying New Delhi sees the ‘invitation as the desire of the enlightened leadership of the UAE to go beyond our rapidly growing close bilateral ties’ and ‘forge a true multifaceted partnership at the multilateral and international level’. Adding further, New Delhi said,”The invitation is a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE.”

Statement from UAE’s Foriegn Ministry said, “Will open session next Friday..with the participation of 56 member states & 5 observer states, as well as the friendly Republic of India with all its International political weight and diverse cultural heritage and an important Islamic component, as a guest of honour”

This is a major development since OIC has not been very pro India and has been issuing statements on Kashmir on Pakistan’s insistence. This also shows New Delhi’s Look West Policy which has seen a number of high-level engagements between India and West Asia is making an impact. This despite hyphenation between Israel and Palestine, something that was criticised since it was seen as a policy that could alienate New Delhi in many Arab capitals.

In 1969, Indian representative Fakrudin Ali Ahmed was not allowed to attend the final session of OIC meet in Rabat, Morocco at the behest of Pakistan’s President, Yahya Khan.

(With inputs from Sidhant Sibal, Zee Media)