Leaders of Islamic nations meeting in Egypt's capital have called for a negotiated end to Syria's civil war and commended France for its military intervention in Mali against Islamist militants.
Senegalese President Macky Sall's opening address Wednesday to the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Cairo urged leaders of fellow Muslim nations to support Mali's sovereignty.
He said the group cannot allow "a minority of terrorists to commit crimes, distort our faith and deepen hatred for Islam."
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who is hosting the two-day conference, has repeatedly denounced France's operation in Mali while his Islamist allies at home have demonstrated outside the French embassy in Cairo to protest French intervention.
Morsi, in his address, called on OIC members to support the Syrian opposition's efforts to unify and usher in change. He admonished what he called "the ruling regime" in Damascus to learn the lessons of history and not put its interests above those of the nation.
A draft statement set to go before leaders at the summit largely blames Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government for the country's nearly two years of bloodshed. It calls for political dialogue and an immediate end to the fighting that has killed 60,000 people.
The OIC suspended Syria's membership in August, issuing a statement that condemned Mr. Assad for using lethal force against his people.
Leaders at the summit also plan to discuss economic, social and cultural issues focusing on addressing poverty and accelerating development in their countries.