Australia now has a special envoy to the Organisation of The Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
The Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd announced the appointment of Mr Ahmed Fahour as the Australian special envoy, at the OIC meeting in Kazakhstan today.
Mr Fahour has agreed to take up this appointment in parallel with his current role as chair of the Council for Australian-Arab Relations.
"Australia has strong bonds with many OIC members," said Mr Rudd.
"Our political, economic and people-to-people partnerships with Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Gulf States; Egypt the Magreb and the Levant, are among Australia’s most important.
"Our goods trade amounts to $39 billion annually with OIC members, and tens of thousands of young students from OIC member countries study in Australia – with 86,000 enrolments last year alone.
"Mr Fahour will work to deepen Australia's engagement with OIC countries, and the OIC agenda.
"He is a man with a passion for advancing social cohesion and the place of Muslims in Australian society," said Mr Rudd.
The Minister also signalled plans to strengthen ties with the Muslim world by formalising a framework for cooperation between Australia and the OIC itself.
"I would like through this framework to explore how to increase cooperation on interfaith dialogue, on food security and on joint aid projects between Australia and the OIC," said Mr Rudd.
Mr Rudd has invited the OIC Secretary General to visit Australia to pursue the idea, with a view to completing the framework by the time of the OIC Summit in late 2011.
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