Leaders of Muslim countries have offered conflicting approaches to the Syria crisis at a Cairo conference. Views on the French intervention in Mali were also discussed.
The Syria conflict has revealed divisions among the Muslim presidents, prime ministers and leaders in the 57-country Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting in Cairo, Egypt.
Shiite-dominated Iran is the Syrian government’s closest regional ally; Sunni states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey throw their weight behind the rebels.
"The Syrian regime must draw lessons from history," said Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s Islamist president. "It is the people who remain. Those who put their personal interests above the interests of their people will end up leaving."
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki offered a more cautious approach: "Syria suffers from violence, killings and sabotage," he said, calling on leaders at the summit to "find an exit and peaceful solution for its conflict."
Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Syrian National Council criticized a proposal by the group’s head to negotiate with the government of Bashar Assad.
Last week, Moaz al-Khatib, who leads Syria’ main opposition group, offered to talk with Assad regime officials on the condition that detainees be released. However, that offer contradicts the coalition's charter, which calls for the downfall of the regime.
Syria's membership of the OIC has been suspended for its violent crackdown on the rebel uprising. On the ground in Syria, activists said that 150 people were killed
Wednesday. Most of them were from the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus and the northern province of Aleppo.
OIC members on Mali
A French-led force, including Senegalese troops, has begun beating the militants back with an air and ground offensive. The operation has received broad support, especially from the Malian government itself.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said: "We call for a comprehensive approach to deal with the situation there and any similar case," he said, "an approach that deals with all the different aspects of the crisis and its political, developmental and intellectual roots while safeguarding human rights."
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki cancelled his trip to the meeting after Chokri Belaid, a prominent figure of the secular opposition to the Islamist government, was assassinated outside his home, triggering street protests.
The 57-member Saudi Arabia-based OIC has organized the two-day Islamic summit since 1969.
mkg/rc (AFP, Reuters, dpa AP)