WASHINGTON, 23rd December, 2016 (WAM) — The U.S. Department of State and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met on 21st and 22nd December for the inaugural annual bilateral consultations in Washington, D.C. The annual consultations will enable more meaningful dialogue between the two sides and enhance collaboration on shared regional and global challenges.

The two sides exchanged views and information on key regional issues, especially in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. They also reviewed existing collaborative efforts and current challenges in countering violent extremism, ensuring conflict resolution, promoting human rights and gender equality, and encouraging refugee and humanitarian assistance.

The two sides pledged to continue to work together and welcomed the initiation of the annual bilateral consultations as a further step to deepen the U.S.-OIC engagement and co-operation in addressing shared challenges on the basis of mutual interest and respect. A fact sheet providing further details on the U.S.-OIC relationship was also developed.

The annual bilateral consultations between the U.S. Department of State and the OIC will be alternately held in Washington, D.C., and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

With regards to CVE, the United States works with the OIC to build international support for action on CVE, including multilateral support for initiatives such as the UN Secretary General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, the UN Leaders’ Summit on CVE in 2015, and collaboration with the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF).

The U.S. worked to forge a partnership between the GCTF and the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), an OIC-affiliated organization, to examine the role of religious education in promoting peace and countering violence. High level meetings on the nexus of education and CVE produced a number of concrete recommendations and a new collaborative platform for education initiatives.

The U.S. is collaborating with the OIC and ISESCO on a project to build the capacity of grassroots religious and community leaders to develop and implement locally-relevant CVE initiatives. The U.S. also engages with the OIC on CVE messaging initiatives, including the OIC’s newly launched Center for Dialogue, Peace, and Understanding.