The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu received a call from the United States Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday, February 23rd. The conversation, held ahead of Secretary Kerry’s expected tour of the region, emphasized the situation in Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, concern for the Rohingyas in Myanmar, the violence in Mali and Sudan-South Sudan relations.
Secretary General Ihsanoglu and Secretary Kerry discussed the future of the US-OIC relationship and the need for continued and enhanced bilateral cooperation in the areas of humanitarian aid, health, and efforts to combat religious discrimination through the Istanbul Process. The Istanbul Process which promotes inter-religious dialogue and cooperation is one of the primary initiatives established by the Secretary General and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“The OIC enjoys fruitful cooperation with the United States on many bilateral programs and enjoyed excellent working conditions with Secretary Kerry’s predecessor Ms. Hillary Clinton. We look forward to strengthening this relationship as we move forward together on important international issues and appreciate Secretary Kerry’s dedication to the United States’ relationship with the OIC and the Muslim world,” said Secretary General Ihsanoglu.
Of particular importance was the Secretary General’s recognition that the United States is a necessary broker of peace in Africa. He urged Secretary Kerry to do everything within his power to increase the United States’ involvement and to prevent the situation in many parts of Africa from worsening. Rise of extremism in Sahel was identified as a common challenge.
On his part Secretary Kerry expressed his willingness to work with Secretary General Ihsanoglu on mutually important areas and appreciated his strong voice, which speaks for moderation and interfaith dialogue.
The conversation was the first discussion between the OIC Secretary General and the Secretary of State since Kerry’s assumption of the office at the beginning of the month. Both expressed their commitment to meet in person during their respective diplomatic visits within the next few months.