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14 March 2019 Meeting of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC in Morocco; absence of Iran sparks controversy

From 11 to 14 March, the 14th session of the Parliamentary Union of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Member States (PUIC) was hosted in Rabat, Morocco. Delegations from the Middle East and Africa attended, but Iran was absent. Statements from some Arab media indicated that Moroccan authorities had banned access to the territory to the Iranian delegation at Casablanca airport. According to a Moroccan Parliamentary source quoted by the Yabiladi news website, this information is totally unfounded. So far the Moroccan and Iranian authorities have not commented on this. PUIC Secretary-General, Mouhamed Khouraichi Niass, said the absence of the Iranian delegation was out of his control. Moroccan House Speaker Habib El Malki urged the OIC member states to set aside their differences and work on resolving them through dialogue. El Malki stressed that the OIC should adopt internal dialogue to overcome their differences and that “having different views is the essence of democracy, which should bring benefits to people despite their differences.” On 1 May 2018, Morocco broke diplomatic ties with Iran. Morocco said that Hezbollah, an ally of Iran, had granted military support to the Polisario Front in the conflict in Western Sahara. Tehran denied these accusations, lamenting that they served as a pretext for a diplomatic break.