The Kuala Lumpur Summit, which kicked off on Thursday, provides an opportunity to explore further areas of potential cooperation between the participating countries, Malaysia’s envoy in Ankara said Wednesday.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in the Turkish capital, Malaysian Chargé d'Affaires Arhan Syafrisyah Shah Anuar said that officials from the participating countries are expected to draft many agreements and memorandums of understanding for the consideration of leaders attending the summit.
“The Kuala Lumpur Summit will be a catalyst for more cooperation in numerous sectors, such as business and defense,” he said.
Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is set to join Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani alongside the host, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, in delivering keynote addresses over the course of the summit.
Hundreds of government officials, businesspeople, NGO representatives and experts from various sectors across the Muslim world are attending the summit in order to deliberate issues facing the Islamic world. “So, it is not just a meeting for leaders... it is for all across the board,” Shah Anuar said.
At least seven key issues will be discussed in the summit, according to the envoy. “The role of political parties, development, redistribution of wealth, shared prosperity, food security, advanced high-tech preservation of national identity and national policies will be the part of discussions," he said. The envoy added that specific issues, such as justice and freedom, peace, security and defense, culture and identity, integrity and good governance would form the agenda.
“The Kuala Lumpur Summit is a platform to discuss issues confronting the Muslim world; there are so many challenges we face today, and there are existing platforms including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, but this summit is an additional attempt to complement other efforts. It is not something different,” Shah Anuar said.
Summit not intended to form alternative to other forums
He denied reports that the summit was an attempt to build an alternative to other forums, mentioning that this year's event formed the fifth session of the Kuala Lumpur Summit. The diplomat said that Malaysia and its various ministries had specific tasks to extend the invitation to the leaders of Muslim countries.
“I believe we went to various countries, including those who are in the African region and Gulf region, and individually as well. It also depends on the availability of leaders,” he added. The Malaysian envoy insisted that the summit was “not the sort of association that requires a certain nomenclature." "It is a loosely arranged grouping to say, with the goal to address potential issues with the Muslim world, comprising of NGOs and individuals," Shah Anuar said.
He said that many businesspeople and representatives from various NGOs would be in attendance and that this year would see an increase in the number of attendees. “More and more leaders really wanted to participate. So, it is an evolving mechanism which surely provides a growing number of opportunities,” he said.
Shah Anuar said that the Turkish government had given its consent to attend the summit some months ago, but that, “at the same time, we also understand that the Turkish president had many commitments and we are really grateful for his attendance. As is the case for all the leaders.”
“There are areas for development and cooperation. So, this is an opportunity for more cooperation between the countries that are participating and also countries that will be participating in the future," he said.
Shah Anuar said that the summit has different segments with businesses and NGOs. “They are working really hard to draft deals that could be concluded during the summit,” he said, referring to trade relations between Malaysia and Turkey.
Joint TV channel to fight Islamophobia
The diplomat said that Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan are holding working group-level talks to launch a joint TV channel, as announced earlier this year by their leaders. He added that trilateral solidarity between these countries was distinct from the current summit.
“These three countries have joined hands to do something for Muslims around the world ... there is a misconception about Muslims, for which this TV channel is being launched,” he said.
He added that top-level delegations from the three partners would hold holding technical discussions with regard to the content and other infrastructure of the project.