SANAA, June 28: Foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference opened a meeting here on Tuesday with a call for a Muslim permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu urged a greater role for Muslim countries in world affairs and demanded a ‘permanent representation for the Islamic world on the UN Security Council’.

“The Islamic world, which represents one-fifth of total mankind, cannot remain excluded from the activities of the Security Council which assumes a fundamental role in keeping security and peace in the world,” he said.

Mr Ihsanoglu had announced on Monday that ministers would discuss proposals for the representation of the 57-member body on the Security Council during their three-day conference in the Yemeni capital.

Calls for increasing the number of permanent members have been resonating since Germany, Japan, India and Brazil announced their wish to have veto-wielding positions like the current big five of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

Mr Ihsanoglu told the conference that his plans also provided for the introduction of ‘real reform’ in the Islamic bloc’s internal affairs.

“I want to push for real reform in the organization, not just a superficial one ... to enhance capabilities and improve performance,” he said at the opening which was held amid tight security measures and away from the press.

Mr Ihsanoglu became head of the OIC at the start of the year after his election to the top job in June 2004, becoming the first secretary-general in the organization’s 36-year history to be chosen through secret ballot.

The Turkish secretary-general also proposed finding a new name for the organization that would reflect ‘its reality’.

OIC was given its current name when it was first established at a meeting of Islamic leaders convened in Morocco following an attempt by Jewish hardliners to burn down Al-Aqsa mosque.

The Red Sea city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia hosts the headquarters of the OIC, “pending the liberation of Jerusalem, which would be the permanent headquarters,” according to the OIC website.

The OIC was entrusted “in absolute priority, with liberating Al Quds and Al-Aqsa from Zionist occupation,” it added.

But Mr Ihsanoglu wanted to “revisit the OIC’s convention and rewrite it in a way that would serve the interests of the (Islamic) nation”.

He also wanted to reform the OIC in order to “guarantee that its political decisions do not remain wishes”.— AFP

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