US, OIC hold inaugural meeting on bilateral consultation, countering extremism

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WASHINGTON, Dec 23 (APP): The US State Department and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation held their inaugural annual bilateral consultations to enable greater U.S. OIC dialogue and collaboration on shared regional and global challenges, including countering violent
extremism.
The two sides exchanged views and information on priority regional issues across the globe, particularly in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, according to the statement from the US
State Department.
The two sides reviewed existing collaborative efforts and ongoing challenges in countering violent extremism, conflict resolution, promoting human rights and gender equality, and encouraging
refugee and humanitarian assistance.
In addition to regional and multilateral political priorities, key areas of engagement include countering violent extremism and promoting human rights, humanitarian affairs, women’s issues, global health, and conflict resolution.
The consultations were chaired by Acting U.S. Special Envoy to the OIC Arsalan Suleman and Acting Director General for Political Affairs and Director of African Affairs Ambassador Yahaya Lawal.
Coordinated by the SecretaryÆs Office of Religion and Global Affairs, the bilateral consultations included participation by senior officials from various regional and functional bureaus in the U.S.
Department of State.
The OIC delegation included senior officials from the OIC Secretariat in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and the Office of the OIC’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations.
The two sides pledged to continue to work together and welcomed the initiation of the annual bilateral consultations as a further step in deepening U.S. OIC engagement and cooperation in addressing shared challenges on the basis of mutual interest and respect.
The annual bilateral consultations between the U.S. Department of State and the OIC will alternate locations between Washington, DC and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) advances U.S. foreign policy interests through engagement with the OIC, OIC Member States, and civil society, including religious leaders.
The position of the U.S. Special Envoy to the OIC was created in 2008 under President George W. Bush. Several other non OIC member or observer countries have also appointed Special Envoys to the OIC, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Italy.
The US government engages with the OIC on key regional and multilateral priority areas and seeks to build partnerships in areas of mutual interest, including in multiple areas.
The US works with the OIC to build international support for action on counterterrorism and countering violent extremism, including multilateral support for initiatives such as the UN Secretary
GeneralÆs Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, the UN LeadersÆ Summit on Counting Violent Extremism (CVE) in 2015, and collaboration with the Global Counterterrorism Forum
(GCTF).
High level meetings on the nexus of education and CVE produced a number of concrete recommendations and a new collaborative platform for education initiatives.
The U.S. is collaborating with the OIC and ISESCO on a project to build the capacity of grassroots religious and community leaders to develop and implement locally relevant CVE initiatives.
The United States also coordinate with the OIC on conflict resolution activities in various regions, seeking to identify peaceful solutions to disputes.
In the Central African Republic, for example, collaboration with the OIC helped facilitate a civil society led intra faith mediation effort that is supportive of national reconciliation efforts.