MAKKAH, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday August 15, 2012 – Representatives of Guyana and Suriname are currently in Saudi Arabia to attend a special heads of government summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Makkah, better known as Mecca.
The heads of the two Caribbean OIC member states were invited by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to participate in the 4th Extraordinary Islamic Summit in Makkah from August 14 to 15.
George Hallaq, ambassador and special envoy of the Guyanese president to the Middle East, is representing President Ramotar at the Makkah summit.
Henry MacDonald, Suriname’s ambassador to the United Nations, is heading his country’s delegation to the summit, according to the foreign ministry in Paramaribo.
The summit has been convened due to major unrest in the Islamic world, and Syria is expected to dominate the agenda.
“This requires a unified stand by all Muslims. OIC is a great opportunity to reconcile sectarian differences, meet challenges and benefit from opportunities. These are the reasons behind King Abdullah’s call for the summit in Makkah on August 14-15, as the 14th of August falls on ‘Laila-tul-Qadr’ [one of the holiest nights in Islam] this year,” according to Jamal Khashoggi, a leading analyst on the Arab world.
Guyana and Suriname are expected to expand multilateral ties with the OIC and also to advance bilateral ties with member states at the event. Guyana and Saudi Arabia recently established a diplomatic relationship and are said to be preparing to appoint honorary consuls in their respective countries.
More than a dozen heads of state are attending the summit including President Asif Zardari of Pakistan; the King of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad; Jordan’s King Abdullah and Iran’s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad’s presence at the summit is viewed as a significant development that could lead to improved Iran/Saudi relations, which is also key in Tehran’s effort to establish diplomatic ties with Egypt.
The persecution of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya citizens and the stalled peace process between Israel and Palestine are expected to feature prominently on the summit’s agenda.
Guyana and Suriname are the only Caribbean members of the OIC, a 57-member multilateral organisation. Suriname is also a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO).