GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN, Arab News Staff
Published — Wednesday 6 February 2013
Last update 6 February 2013 7:23 pm
RIYADH/CAIRO: Leaders of Islamic nations will call for a dialogue between the Syrian opposition and government officials “not involved in oppression” to end two years of civil war when they attend the summit of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Cairo today, a draft of the communique says.
On behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, is leading the Saudi delegation to the summit in the Egyptian capital, where more than 30 heads of OIC states and high-ranking officials will sit together with an exhaustive agenda rich in political content.
A number of top Saudi officials including Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister, are accompanying Crown Prince Salman, said Alauddin Alaskary, deputy foreign minister for protocol affairs.
A draft communique, due to be issued after a two-day summit of 56-member OIC starting today, does not mention President Bashar Assad and pins most of the blame on his government for continued violence.
The text discussed by foreign ministers at a preparatory meeting yesterday came after Syrian opposition leader Moaz Al-Khatib offered to meet Assad’s deputy to negotiate a way to end the bloodshed.
“We strongly condemn the ongoing bloodshed in Syria and underline the Syrian government’s primary responsibility for the continued violence and destruction of property,” the draft communique said.
“We express grave concern over the deteriorating situation, the increasing frequency of killing which claims the lives of thousands of unarmed civilians and the perpetration of massacres in towns and villages by the Syrian authorities.”
The summit draft called on Syrian opposition forces to speed up the formation of a transitional government “and to be ready to assume the political responsibility in full until the completion of the desired political change process.”
The 12th OIC summit will review major issues concerning the OIC states as well as crises in certain states such as Syria, Mali and Palestine, said Alaskarry. He pointed out that the foreign ministers of the OIC member states met in Cairo again yesterday to finalize the preparation for summit meeting today. Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Kabeer, deputy minister for multilateral relations, headed the delegation of the Kingdom to the ministerial meeting in Cairo yesterday. The summit will be held under the rubric "the Islamic world: new challenges and growing opportunities".
The UN, the African Union, the Arab League and the Non-Aligned Movement will also participate in OIC summit besides some other countries that have been either in the capacity of observer states or guest countries. Some of them include Kosovo, the Russian Federation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central Africa and Thailand. "Kosovo will be exerting all efforts to seek recognition from the OIC states and to become an OIC member state eventually," said Kosovo Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Rexhep Boja, yesterday
Boja, who is in Cairo, expressed his hope that more OIC member states will recognize Kosovo as an independent country. Boja, while speaking via phone from Cairo, said that only 31 of the organization's 57 members have granted recognition to Kosovo. Hoxhaj said the last country to recognize Kosovo was Pakistan. "Hence a Kosovar delegation led by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci is here in Cairo to lobby for recognition and support," he added.
On the other hand, a rift between the two OIC member states — Sudan and Uganda — has come to the fore even before the summit begins. Sudanese government has voiced its objection to Uganda’s election to a senior panel of the OIC following the ministerial meeting in Cairo yesterday. In fact, Uganda was elected as member of the OIC commission's office with Palestine and Pakistan besides Egypt, which was elected as president of the office.
Sudan’s representative at the OIC Abdel-Hafiz Ibrahim, who is also its ambassador in Saudi Arabia, said that he has made his views known in writing on Uganda’s ascension to this position calling it a violation of the organization’s charter. Asked whether the agenda has been finalized for the OIC summit, a diplomatic source said that the topics of discussions broadly include Jewish settlement in Palestine, conflict in the Islamic world, Islamophobia and humanitarian situation in the Islamic world.
Other topics that will be taken up for discussion include economic cooperation among OIC member states and promoting scientific, cultural and technological cooperation in the Islamic world. Among the political issues, the summit will mainly discuss the situations in Syria, Mali, Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan. The Syrian crisis, the conflict in Mali and the Palestinian issue will figure high at the summit, said a report released by the OIC yesterday.
It said that the Cairo summit is a good opportunity to break Syria deadlock and put an end to the crisis and the military conflict in the Islamic country. Important heads of states to be present in the meeting are Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who becomes the first Iranian president to visit Egypt since Iran’s 1979 revolution snapped diplomatic ties between the two most populous countries in the Middle East.
Ahmadinejad is leading Iran’s delegation to the summit in Cairo. The trip follows a visit by Egypt’s President Mohammad Mursi to Iran in August last year, when the two leaders agreed to reopen official embassies. Asked about the OIC presidency, the report said that the Senegalese president will hand over the presidency of the Islamic summit to President Mursi on the concluding day of the summit.