Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu speaks at a press conference in Jeddah on Tuesday.
Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary-General Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said yesterday that he would soon visit Myanmar as the head of a high-level delegation including OIC foreign ministers as part of efforts to stop the attacks against Rohingya Muslims.
Addressing a press conference, he said the visit came in response to an invitation he received from Myanmar President Thein Sein. “We have not canceled our pre-planned visit to Myanmar but it was postponed due to insecure conditions in the country,” he told Arab News.
Speaking about the upcoming OIC summit in Cairo, he said Syria, Palestine, Myanmar and Islamophobia would figure high on its agenda. “We are now in the process of making necessary preparations to make the summit successful,” the secretary-general said.
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry delegation recently visited OIC headquarters to discuss arrangements for the summit. An OIC team yesterday left for Egypt to discuss technical and logistical aspects of the conference. Ihsanoglu highlighted Egypt’s important role in the Islamic world.
Referring to the situation in Syria, the OIC chief said the crisis has reached its final stage. However, he stressed that the international community should reach an agreement on ceasefire in order to find a political solution for the problem.
“The political solution should reflect the hopes and aspirations of Syrian people, should not repeat the mistake done in Iraq and preserve Syrian state institutions,” the secretary-general said.
Asked about appointing a representative of the Syrian opposition council in the OIC, he said: “We have not yet discussed such a proposal.” However, he pointed out that OIC was keeping in touch with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and other opposition groups.
Ihsanoglu had met with Ahmed Al-Khateeb, president of the coalition and George Sabra, head of the Syrian National Council, on the sidelines of the Friends of Syria meeting in Marrakech recently. Both leaders had requested OIC’s political and humanitarian support.
“The Marrakech meeting declared its recognition of the National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and this is a big political support reflecting the international community’s confidence in the new leadership,” the OIC chief said.
In a related development, Ihsanoglu disclosed plans to intensify humanitarian activities for Syrian people through a coalition of 30 relief organizations.
“We are now in contact with Turkey to open a humanitarian office in the country to follow the condition of Syrian refugees and coordinate relief work,” the secretary-general said.
Referring to the armed groups in Mali, he said: “We are totally against exploiting Islam for killing and terrorizing people. We have appointed an envoy to deal with Malian crisis.”