JEDDAH: Heads of some of the most important Muslim countries of the world began streaming into the Kingdom yesterday answering the call of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to attend a two-day Islamic solidarity summit that begins in Makkah today.
The leaders were accorded red carpet welcome and fitting protocol on their arrival in Jeddah and Madinah. Prominent among those who arrived yesterday were Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Libya’s General National Congress head Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Bangladeshi President Mohammed Zillur Rahman, Senegalese President Macky Sall and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.
Foreign ministers of almost all the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference were in attendance at the meeting at the Conference Palace yesterday.
As the world leaders and their entourages made their way out of the airports, they headed straight to the various palaces. All the main roads leading to the Conference Palace in Al-Hamra District were closed to local traffic. Securitymen and traffic patrol vehicles were manning the main streets to ensure a smooth flow of the leaders’ cavalcades to the palace.
Hundreds of journalists from the across the Muslim world have descended in Jeddah to cover the conference which has assumed significance in view of the unprecedented political convulsions in the Arab world, and especially SyriaIn the first signs of the Makkah summit succeeding in its express purpose of uniting Muslims worldwide, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi heaped fulsome praise on Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for convening the Islamic solidarity summit in the heart and cradle of Islam.
“The summit comes at a timely when there is a dire need to reunite the Muslim Ummah and to consolidate cohesiveness among Islamic countries,” he said at the Conference Palace yesterday.
“I am here and I feel a.m. at home. I had once lived in Jeddah for a period of four years (at the OIC),” he said. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sacred country. I wish all success, fortitude and peace to the Saudi people and the Saudi government.”
On the recent developments in the region, he said: “At the end of the day, we are sure and trust that the end result will be in the best interest of the Islamic nation … We have to appreciate Saudi Arabia’s proposal to reunite the Islamic nation and to consolidate Islamic unity and to shun divisionism.”
Iranian President Ahmadinejad arrived in the Kingdom to take part in the summit. He went to the holy city of Madinah yesterday and visited the Prophet’s Mosque. Vice President General for the Affairs of the Prophet’s Mosque Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Faleh and a number of officials received him and his accompanying delegation at the mosque.
There were reports in some sections of the media that Ahmadinejad might cancel his visit in view of the devastating earthquake in Iran.
“The world today is in a very sensitive situation,” Ahmadinejad told reporters just before leaving Tehran, according to the Fars news agency.
“Different groups are at work and the enemies are actively pursuing their aims and a great deal of energy is being spent by Islamic governments and groups on arguing and confronting each other,” he said. “I hope that the summit will focus on increasing unity and lowering antagonism.”