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Iraq's Interim Leader Allowed to Attend Meeting of Islamic Nations - 2003-09-28

Malaysia, the host for a summit of Islamic countries next month, has agreed to allow a representative of Iraq's governing council to attend. The decision reverses the earlier stance of Malaysian officials, who had said Iraq would not be able to attend the summit because it is under U.S. control.

The leader of Iraq's U.S.-installed interim government, Ahmad Chalabi, will be allowed to attend the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit at the request of several Middle Eastern states.

Malaysia's foreign minister, Syed Hamid Albar, was quoted in the New Straits Times newspaper as saying the decision to allow Iraq to attend the summit came after the Arab League allowed Baghdad to attend key meetings. The Arab League, however, made that decision contingent on Iraq's speeding up the formation of a locally elected government.

Earlier, Malaysia had insisted that members of Iraq's governing council could not attend the annual OIC summit because the country remains under U.S. control following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime earlier this year.

The two-day OIC summit starts October 16 and brings together the leaders of 57 nations in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia's government has strongly opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The agreement to allow Iraq to attend also comes as Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last week launched a bid to secure observer status at the summit. She wants to attend as part of her efforts to advance talks with Muslim separatist organizations in the southern Philippines.