JEDDAH, Jan 21, (Agencies): First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah on Thursday urged Iran to assume the responsibility of providing due protection to diplomatic missions in the country. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled made the call in his statement to the emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers in Jeddah, to discuss the implications of the recent attacks on the Saudi embassy and general consulate in Iran.
The Kuwaiti Foreign Minister is presiding over the emergency meeting, attended by foreign ministers and delegates of the OIC member states, including Iran. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled called Iran to be committed to regional and international laws and conventions. He specified the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963. According to both, a host country is committed to providing due protection to other countries’ diplomatic missions. Meanwhile, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled reiterated support to the Kingdom’s efforts and measures to counter all forms of terrorism, regardless of its sources or motivations.
The Kuwaiti chief diplomat stressed the importance of the OIC member states’ commitment to the principles and goals of the organization’s charter, which provide for no-interference in the internal affairs of fellow members, and the respect of their sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. He noted that the emergency meeting was called for by Saudi Arabia to discuss repercussions of the recent aggression on the Kingdom’s embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashhad, pointing to the high-profile representation in the meeting, as 37 countries are taking part. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled referred to the OIC statement on Jan 3, condemning the aggression on the Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran. In the meantime, he pointed to the extraordinary conditions the Muslim nation is going through, and the hard challenges it is facing.
This prompts, more than ever, further adherence to the values of the Islam, which are based on fraternity, interdependence and solidarity among all Muslims, and which are refl ected in the OIC Charter. Concluding the statement to the opening of the extraordinary meeting, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled prayed for positive outcome. Worsening relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran are diverting attention from the “real challenges” facing Muslims, the head of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation said on Thursday. Iyad Madani was addressing an extraordinary meeting of the 57-member OIC, called by Saudi Arabia after protesters in Iran burned its diplomatic missions there in early January.
They attacked Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran and a consulate in the second city of Mashhad after the kingdom executed Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, a driving force behind anti-government protests. The attacks “contradict diplomatic standards”, and “interference in the affairs of any member state undermines our organisation’s charter,” said Madani, referring to criticism by Iran’s leaders of Nimr’s execution. “It is clear that the continued deterioration of relations between some of our member states contributes to deepening rifts” among Islamic nations, Madani said. He added that such tensions “distract us from addressing the real challenges”, including “terrorism”, which threaten members of the organisation that calls itself the collective voice of the Muslim world.
“It is regretful that the reality of the Islamic division and differences negatively affect the performance of the OIC” and its international credibility, Madani told the group based in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. Sunni Saudi Arabia and some of its allies cut diplomatic ties with Shi’ite Iran as a result of the violence against its missions.
Nimr was one of four Shi’ites put to death on Jan 2 alongside 43 Sunnis. All were convicted of “terrorism”. The tensions between the leading Sunni and Shi’ite nations have caused concern around the world. China, France and Pakistan have also sought a de-escalation. Madani called for “building bridges of understanding and restoring mutual trust” through dialogue. This will prevent conflicts “that will waste energy and hinder the development of our people,” he said.
Iran sacked a senior security official over his failure to stop the attack on Riyadh’s embassy. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said the attack was wrong and against Islam. But Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al- Jubeir told Thursday’s meeting that Iran respects neither Islam nor the charter of the OIC. “The importance of this meeting is in the fact that this aggression is not the fi rst but only a part of a series of continuous attacks that diplomatic missions have been subjected to in Iran for 35 years,” Jubeir said. “It is important to point out that the aggression against the kingdom’s missions comes as part of Iran’s aggressive policies and its continuous interference in the internal issues of the countries in the region”. Saudi Arabia and Iran support opposite sides in the civil wars in Syria and Yemen. Iran has also consolidated its infl uence in Iraq and Lebanon through the militant Hezbollah movement, alleged leaders of which are under sanction by Saudi Arabia.