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OIC Summit Opens in Malaysia

Leaders of the Muslim world have gathered in Malaysia for their first regularly scheduled summit in three years. Iraq and recent Israeli attacks in Arab territories are high on the agenda.

Leaders of the Organization of the Islamic Conference are to open the two-day summit Thursday and study a draft resolution that strongly condemns Israel for its continued military presence in the Palestinian territories and its air strike against Syria. The draft resolution calls for the United Nations to take strong action to prevent further aggression.

The draft resolution also wants the United Nations to play a central role in the government transition in Iraq and calls on the U.N. Security Council to set a clear timetable for the rapid return of power to the Iraqi people.

Islamic Conference delegates earlier welcomed the Iraqi delegation to the summit, calling the interim Governing Council a step toward restoring government in Baghdad. Earlier, member nations, including host-Malaysia, relented on their stance that because the Iraqi delegation was appointed by the U.S.-led coalition, it could not join the conference.

The current head of the Iraqi interim Governing Council, Iyad Allawi, rejected this view, saying council members are legitimate leaders. He says they also represent the various ethnic, religious, and sectarian groups in Iraq. "So really, we have not been appointed by the Americans or appointed by the British, nor by anybody else, but we really have been appointed by the Iraqi people and each and every one of us represents, or is the secretary-general or the chairman, of a serious, deeply-rooted group in Iraq," he says.

Mr. Allawi says Iraq will definitely hold national elections next year.

Members of the Iraqi delegation say that while they appreciate suggestions from Muslim leaders on the timing for transferring sovereignty to Iraqi leaders, such a decision belongs to the Iraqi leadership. The Iraqi foreign minister is urging patience, as a new resolution on Iraq works its way through the United Nations.

The Iraqi delegation also indicated it objects to Turkish troops in Iraq. It says it wants all foreign forces out of Iraqi territory, saying Iraqis are best able to provide security for their country.

Islamic Conference leaders are also studying ways to increase trade among their countries, but warn that political and ideological disputes still are barriers to this goal.