Syria clouds Islamic summit

Syria clouds Islamic summit

Syria clouds Islamic summit

The meeting of Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Cairo will call for talks between Damascus and rebels, Turkish President Gül (C) says. AA photo

Heads of state from across the Islamic world met in Cairo to tackle crises ranging from Syria’s civil war to the battle against Islamic militants in Mali, as Turkish President Abdullah Gül vowed to cooperate with Egypt.

Syria will not be represented at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit even though much of the summit’s debate is expected to be focused on the conflict that has ravaged the country for almost 23 months.

The meeting will gather leaders from 26 of the OIC’s 57 states, with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi assuming the organization’s rotating presidency.

“The Syrian regime must draw lessons from history: it is the people who remain. Those who put their personal interests above the interests of their people will end up leaving,” Morsi told heads of state and representatives of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The gathering will call for “serious dialogue” between the Syrian opposition and government officials “not directly involved in oppression,” according to a draft resolution.

Without mentioning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad directly the resolution says: “We urge the Syrian regime to show wisdom and call for serious dialogue to take place between the National Coalition of the Syrian revolution, opposition forces and representatives of the Syrian government committed to political transformation in Syria...”

The document stresses the need to maintain “Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” while underlining that “the main responsibility for the continued violence falls on the Syrian government.”

The draft text also urged the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) to speed up the creation of a transitional government “to be ready to assume responsibility in full until the completion of the desired political change process.”

Diplomats said Iran had objected to the wording and it might be toned down to spread responsibility more evenly. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the statement had to be adopted by consensus and would stress the need for dialogue and a political solution.

A meeting is also scheduled between Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia on the sidelines of the summit. The Cairo summit will also discuss the conflict in Mali, the issue of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory and questions of Islamophobia and Muslim minorities. In his opening address to the gathering, Senegalese President Macky Sall commended France for its military intervention in Mali and said the Muslim world cannot allow “a minority of terrorists to commit crimes, distort our faith and deepen hatred for Islam.”

 He was alluding to the Islamist militants who seized control of northern Mali before a French-led force, which includes troops from Senegal, began to roll them back with airstrikes and a ground offensive.

Turkey considers Egypt as a strategic partner

Meanwhile, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said Turkey and Egypt could exert joint efforts to contribute to peace and stability in the region, adding that Turkey considers Egypt to be a strategic partner in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

The president said Turkey welcomed Egypt’s democratic transformation, adding that in time the country would build its own democratic experience. “The recent tensions and loss of lives in Egypt has saddened Turkey. Our hope is that democracy will prevail in the country without any interruption. Turkey respects the free political will of the Egyptian people,” Gül said.

Compiled from Reuters, AFP and AA by the Daily News staff