OIC Divisive Moves Invalid

OIC Divisive Moves InvalidOIC Divisive Moves Invalid

President Hassan Rouhani said making divisive moves through the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is "invalid", as no consensus exists within the Muslim world and such an approach runs counter to the reason behind the creation of the bloc.

The president made the statement in an address to the OIC's 13th Islamic Summit Conference in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Thursday.

"No divisive message should be sent from the OIC summit that has been held under the name of unity," he said. "Any divisive measure is definitely invalid as it is not backed by the consensus of this organization, in addition to the Muslim community, and is in contrast with its raison d'etre."

The president was indirectly referring to four clauses of a draft final declaration of the summit that criticize Iran and the Tehran-allied Lebanese group Hezbollah.

The language, proposed by Saudi Arabia, was inserted into the draft during an expert-level meeting of the organization at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah in February.

Iranian diplomats were prevented from attending the meeting, as they were denied visas by Riyadh.

Iran and Saudi Arabia find themselves on opposing sides of various regional conflicts, especially in Syria and Yemen. Bilateral tensions deepened after Iranian protestors, angered by the kingdom's execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, ransacked the Saudi embassy and its consulate in Iran last January.

Although Iranian officials condemned the attack, Saudis used the incident as an excuse for breaking ties with Tehran and tried to orchestrate a regional campaign to isolate the country.

***Ignorance, Prejudice Behind Divisions  

Rouhani said, "It is crystal clear that neither Saudi Arabia is Iran's problem nor Iran is Saudi Arabia's problem", adding that the root causes of divisions are "ignorance, prejudice and violence".

"Discords in the Muslim world are a problem for all and solving them is only possible through diplomatic means," he said, adding that Tehran avoids any tension in the region and seeks solidarity and unity among Muslims.

The president expressed Iran's readiness to help solve disputes among Muslims through negotiations.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has always backed Muslim countries against aggressions, threats, occupation and terrorism," he said. "Strengthening relations with Muslim countries is a top priority of Iran."

***President Protests Anti-Iran Measure

Fars News Agency reported on Friday that Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who participated in the preparatory foreign ministers' meeting of the summit, did not attend the closing session of the summit, in protest against the inclusion of the anti-Iran and anti-Hezbollah clauses in the final declaration.

The 13th summit of the 57-member OIC themed "Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace" was held on Thursday and Friday with more than 30 heads of state in attendance.

The Palestine issue, Arab-Israel conflict, terrorism, Islamophobia, humanitarian situation in the Muslim world and adoption of the "OIC Program of Action: 2016-25" were to be discussed in the meeting.

The gathering convenes every three years. The previous Islamic Summit Conference was held in February 2013, in Cairo, Egypt.

Founded in 1969 to represent the collective voice of Muslim world, OIC is the largest international organization after the United Nations.

On the sidelines of the summit, Rouhani met Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, Afghanistan's Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, Senegal's President Macky Sall, Brunei's King Hassanal Bolkiah, Chairman of Oman's State Council Yahya bin Mahfoudh al-Manthri, Vice President of Indonesia Muhammad Jusuf Kalla and Algerian Parliament Speaker Abdul Qadir bin Saleh.

After the meeting, Rouhani was due to leave Istanbul for capital Ankara to hold bilateral discussions with Turkish officials.