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Iraq: Contentious Resolution Withdrawn From OIC Summit

The U.S.-led occupation of Iraq was widely expected to dominate the agenda of this week's two-day Malaysia summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. But at the request of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council, heads of state at today's summit opener dropped a draft resolution demanding a specific timeline for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq.

Prague, 16 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Leaders from the 57 countries in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) attending a summit in Malaysia have agreed to withdraw a draft resolution that had demanded a strict timetable for U.S.-led coalition forces to pull out of Iraq.

Instead, the draft resolution is being replaced by a weaker OIC political statement that calls for U.S.-led forces to withdraw from Iraq "as soon as possible." Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher says he expects the political statement to be adopted before the conclusion of the OIC summit tomorrow.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed opened the two-day summit in his new administrative capital of Putrajaya with a call for greater cooperation between the leaders of Islamic countries. "We, the leaders of the Organization of Islamic Conference countries, are gathered here today to confer and, hopefully, to plot a course for the future of Islam and the Muslim Uma [community] worldwide," Mohammed said.

But divisions over Iraq quickly emerged at the summit. Iraqi Governing Council chief Ayad Allawi complained today that the OIC draft resolution interfered in his country's internal affairs. Allawi also disapproved of language in the contentious draft that called for the United Nations to play a central role in Iraq's political and economic transition -- a position that conflicts with a U.S.-proposed draft UN resolution, which was approved by the Security Council today.

Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah today sided with the Iraqi Governing Council. Al-Sabah told reporters the Governing Council should be left on its own to decide upon issues related to the country's democratic transition. Al-Sabah also says there are no differences "on the essence" of the OIC draft resolution and the political statement is an adequate replacement.

He said the differences are "on the mechanism and stages" that should lead to a transfer of power to the Iraqi people. Kuwait is one of the few countries represented at the OIC summit that supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Today's developments in Malaysia effectively shift the focus of international debate on the future of Iraq back to the UN Security Council.

The resolution to be voted on later today seeks UN approval for the U.S. role in Iraq following the ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime last April.

The United States also is seeking to win troop commitments and financial support from other countries to help stabilize the security situation and move forward on the reconstruction of Iraq. The U.S. proposal would give the Iraqi Governing Council until 15 December to announce its timetable for writing a new constitution and conducting elections. Allawi said on the sidelines of the OIC summit today that he approves of the language the U.S. has used in its draft resolution.