Ahmadinejad opposed to Syria OIC suspension

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Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responds to applause as he stands beneath the portraits of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during a gathering of reformed drug addicts in Tehran 26 June 2011. (Photo: Reuters - Caren Firouz)

Published Monday, August 13, 2012

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday said his country opposed the expected suspension of Syria's membership in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), ahead of a key meeting of the body.

"I'm openly against the suspension of the membership of any country, any organization," Salehi told reporters in Jeddah, seat of the 57-strong OIC of which allies Iran and Syria are members.

"By suspending the membership, this does not mean you are moving towards resolving an issue. By this, you are erasing the issue," he said of the 17-month Syria conflict.

"Every country, especially OIC countries must join hands to resolve this issue in such a way that will help the peace security and stability in the region," he added on the eve of an OIC summit in Saudi Arabia.

The secretary general of the OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, has told AFP that war-ravaged Syria will not be represented in the summit.

But foreign ministers gathered Monday to prepare the meeting were expected to "announce the suspension of Syria's membership as recommended by member states," Ihsanoglu said.

Earlier Ahmadinejad, speaking to reporters before he departed for Mecca to meet with leaders of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states, said the emergency meeting would be a chance for Iran to express its opinions.

"This meeting is a chance for our country's viewpoint to be explained transparently and for efforts to be made towards the convergence and protection of the interests of Muslim nations," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying on Monday by the Iranian Students' News Agency.

Ahmadinejad arrived in the Muslim holy city of Medina, in western Saudi Arabia, on Monday lunchtime, the SPA state news agency said, adding that he visited the mosque and tomb of Islam's Prophet Mohammad.

Tensions between Tehran and Riyadh, a close US ally, have run high over their opposing stances on regional uprisings.

Ahmadinejad said such differences serve the goals of the "enemies" of Muslim nations.

"A significant portion of the energy of Muslim governments and groups is spent in internal conflicts and damaging each other," Ahmadinejad said, ISNA reported.

"Perhaps it would be good for Muslim countries to consult with each other on this issue."

Ahmadinejad did not mention Syria specifically in the published comments, though he appeared to refer to the crisis there and the help Iran believes rebels are receiving from foreign powers to overthrow Assad.

"Extensive developments are taking place, and different groups and currents are involved in these developments," he said.

Ahmadinejad's trip abroad takes place two days after two large earthquakes killed at least 306 people and injured 5,000 others in northwest Iran.

Gulf countries including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates extended their condolences, and the Turkish foreign ministry said it had informed Iran it was ready to help.

Ahmadinejad said he would hold bilateral meetings with various country heads during the OIC summit.

"I am hopeful that God will sway the participants in this meeting towards correct decisions," he said. "...This is an historic test for us to see how to protect the dignity and essential rights of Muslim countries."

Last week, Iran held its own 29-nation conference on Syria attended mostly by ambassadors from like-minded countries, with several foreign ministers. Saudi Arabia was not present.

At the end of this month, Iran is to host another international gathering: a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which groups 120 countries considering themselves independent of any of the world's major power blocs.

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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