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Thursday June 28, 2007

Malaysia welcomes US' plan for first-ever envoy to OIC


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia welcomed U.S. President George W. Bush's plan to establish an envoy to the world's main Islamic political grouping, voicing hopes Thursday that it would improve ties between Washington and Muslim countries. 

"Malaysia hopes that the creation of this position could contribute toward the enhancement of relations and provide the avenue for dialogue and cooperation'' between the U.S. and the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, Malaysia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

Bush announced Wednesday he will name a special envoy to the OIC, which Malaysia currently chairs.  

It would be the first U.S. diplomat dedicated to dealing with the OIC, the world's second-largest international organization, after the United Nations. 

"Our special envoy will listen to and learn from representatives from Muslim states, and will share with them America's views and values,'' Bush said in a ceremony honoring the 50th anniversary of the Islamic Center, a mosque and cultural center in Washington. 

On Thursday, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told the national news agency, Bernama, that he welcomed the plan and considered it a form of recognition from the U.S. about the importance and need to engage the OIC. 

"I hope the U.S. will listen to the OIC as an organisation and not just choose to engage with individual states,'' Abdullah said. 

Bush had said Wednesday that the announcement represents "an opportunity for Americans to demonstrate to Muslim communities our interest in respectful dialogue and continued friendship.'' 

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