The 13th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has kicked off in the Turkish city of Istanbul.
The two-day summit meeting of the OIC heads of state opened on Thursday, with leaders from over 30 countries in attendance.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is also present at the summit, whose main focus is the Palestinian cause, conflicts in member states, as well as ways to fight terrorism.
Before departing Tehran for Istanbul, Rouhani said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has always seriously followed the fight against terrorism in the Muslim world and practically any nation and government that has sought Iran’s help, Tehran has offered its help and assistance.”
The Iranian president elaborated on Iran’s assistance to the Muslim countries in their fight against terrorism, saying the governments of countries such as Iraq and Syria have enjoyed Iran’s support in this regard.
Rouhani further said that one of the goals of the OIC is to create unity among Muslim nations, expressing hope that the organization would be able to resolve differences among Islamic states.
The OIC summit is being held under the theme, “Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace.” A resolution on the Palestinian issue and support for international efforts to re-launch a “collective political process” will be issued at the end of the summit.
On the first day of the summit on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blasted Saudi Arabia’s “destructive” move to include statements against the Islamic Republic and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement in the draft declaration of the OIC summit.
Zarif said that Riyadh’s efforts for the inclusion of four paragraphs in the draft declaration against Iran and one more against Hezbollah were against the “spirit of Islamic solidarity.”
The draft was prepared during an expert-level OIC meeting in February in the Saudi port city of Jaddah, which the Iranian officials could not attend as they were denied visas by Riyadh.
Zarif warned that attempts by the Saudis to use the OIC mechanism to achieve their political goals resemble efforts by the former regime of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein against Iran during the organization’s meeting at the time of Iraq’s imposed war against Iran in the 1980s.
He said that members of the OIC should “learn the lesson” from those experiences and refrain from adopting “failed policies.”
Zarif said Saudi Arabia is continuing to “make excuses” out of the incidents that happened at its diplomatic missions in Iran, adding that Iran has openly condemned those events.
The Iranian foreign minister, however, noted that despite “destructive efforts” by some OIC members, Iran has always sought improved relations with the neighboring countries.
Zarif also condemned a paragraph proposed in the OIC draft declaration against Hezbollah, saying the move only pleases Israel.
Addressing a council of foreign ministers meeting on Wednesday, OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani highlighted the significance of fighting extremism, violence, and terrorism.
“It is undoubtable that addressing the phenomena of extremism, violence and terrorism, which hinder all forms of development, advancement and reform and which pour into the reservoir of hate rhetoric for Muslims, is a top priority,” said Madani.
Touching upon the issue of Palestine, he said, “Action in the Palestinian cause remains stagnant due to the absence of political will needed to actuate” the so-called peace process.
The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has 57 member states spread over four continents.
The OIC rotating presidency was transferred to Turkey from Egypt on Wednesday.