Dr Mahathir said that King Salman was of the view that it was better that the issues were discussed in a bigger platform such as in a full-fledged Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting.
He was speaking to reporters after cancelling his appearance at a dialogue session with the youth to hold a video conference call with King Salman at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) here yesterday.
“He wanted to tell me the reasons why he couldn’t make it. He’s afraid that something not good will happen to Muslims. He has a different opinion from us.
“He feels that matters like these (Muslim issues) shouldn’t just be discussed by two or three countries and there should be an OIC meeting and I agreed with him,” said Dr Mahathir.
He added that he explained to King Salman that the KL Summit 2019 was not trying to create a new bloc to replace the OIC as was reported by certain foreign publications.
“We are too small. I explained to him that we are too small to do that.
“If Saudi organises a summit to discuss the same matters, then we are ready to go,” said Dr Mahathir.
On the absence of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, Dr Mahathir said that he could have his own reasons and that his presence could not be forced.
However, he dismissed allegations in Pakistani news reports that Imran, who was invited in November, cancelled his trip following pressure from Saudi Arabia.
“That’s his choice, we cannot force. In Islam, there is no compulsion in religion.
“He can’t come maybe because of other issues.
“But what was reported in the media was not true. There is no problem,” he said.
Earlier in a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) clarified that all 56 countries of the Islamic world were invited and all 56 were represented at various levels.
The KL Summit 2019, which is from today to Saturday, was supposed to bring together the heads of government from Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey and Qatar to address and resolve issues concerning Muslims.
“We invited 50 countries, but for the heads of government, at first, only three were supposed to be involved, then we invited Qatar and Indonesia if they’re interested.
“But if they can’t come then we can’t force them to.
“They have sent their delegations and representatives, they seem interested in the subjects that we are discussing.
“Hopefully, they (the leaders) will receive some of the information regarding our discussions, which have nothing to do with religion, but instead the state of affairs of the Muslims,” added Dr Mahathir.
He said that even in the previous editions of the KL Summit, not all leaders would attend.
But with the view of making the fifth edition more significant, many world leaders were invited this year.
“From the beginning, not all countries would attend, we would have scholarly discussions and it was okay.
“But because this year we want to make it bigger and don’t want people to say that we didn’t invite them, we invited everyone,” he said.
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