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Egyptian president urges Syria unity at OIC summit
February 06, 2013
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CAIRO: Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi on Wednesday urged Syrian opposition groups to unify, as he addressed leaders of Islamic states at a summit that also tackled the battle against militants in Mali.

"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," Mursi told heads of state and representatives of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) in Cairo.

Mursi called on opposition parties not allied to Syria's National Coalition, which is recognised by the international community, "to co-ordinate with this coalition and support their efforts for a unified approach...for democracy."

The Islamic leaders will also discuss the issue of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, a subject regularly brought up at OIC summits since the organisation's creation in 1969.

The meeting gathers leaders of 26 of the OIC's 57 states, with Mursi, Egypt's first president, assuming the organisation's rotating presidency.

Though Syria is not represented at the conference, much of the debate was expected to focus on its conflict in which the UN says more than 60,000 people have been killed.

According to a draft resolution obtained, the gathering will call for "serious dialogue" between the Syrian opposition and government officials "not directly involved in oppression."

The call for dialogue, drafted by foreign ministers after two days of preparatory meetings, will pile pressure on Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to respond to a surprise offer of talks by Ahmed Moaz Al Khatib, leader of National Coalition.

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 Syrian regime is committing "odious crimes...over which we cannot be silent," said Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz.

He urged the summit to support "a transfer of power" in Syria, adding that "the support by certain (states) of the Syrian regime is not helping resolve the situation," in apparent reference to Iran.

The Cairo summit will also discuss the conflict in Mali, where French forces intervened on Jan.11 to help the army halt an advance on the capital Bamako by militants.

Egypt and Qatar have in the past said the Mali conflict needed to be resolved politically.

Agence France-Presse

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