Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday said that he will not attend the Council of Foreign Ministers at Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting that begins in Abu Dhabi today. India's external affairs minister (MEA) Sushma Swaraj is the guest of honour at the meeting.
Pakistan has pulled out of the meeting protesting India's presence. "I will not attend Council of Foreign Ministers as a matter of principle for having extended invitation as a Guest of Honour to Sushma Swaraj," ANI quoted Qureshi as saying.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is in Abu Dhabi to attend the foreign ministers' meet of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states where she is expected to raise the issue of terrorism, amidst Indo-Pak tensions following the Pulwama terror attack.
Swaraj will attend the inaugural plenary of the two-day meeting on Friday. It is for the first time that India has been invited to a meeting of the OIC, an influential grouping of 57 Islamic countries, as the guest of honour.
India's engagement with the OIC comes in the midst of escalating tension between India and Pakistan. The ties strained further after Indian fighter jets bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday. Pakistan carried out a retaliatory aerial raid on Wednesday.
"EAM @SushmaSwaraj arrives in #AbuDhabi for the Ministerial Meeting of @OIC_OCI. India has been invited by HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of UAE as the 'Guest of Honour'," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
Pakistan, a member of the OIC, tried to get Swaraj 'disinvited' from the Abu Dhabi meet following India's air strike on the terror camp in Pakistan.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is also attending the meeting. Earlier he had said that he would boycott the meeting if Swaraj participates.
Qureshi on Thursday said the OIC is "our home" so he will go there but will not hold talks with Swaraj.
The OIC had disinvited India from its conference in 1969 in Morocco at Pakistan's behest. The OIC has usually been supportive of Pakistan and often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.
The MEA said Foreign Minister of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan invited Swaraj as the 'guest of honour' to address the inaugural plenary and that India was happy to accept the invitation.
Tensions have escalated between India and Pakistan in the wake of the February 14 Pulwama attack claimed by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). In the attack, 40 CRPF soldiers were killed.
(With inputs from agencies)