MECCA, Saudi Arabia: King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia warned Tuesday against “strife and division” afflicting the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims and called for establishing a process of dialogue to resolve the tension and division.
The Saudi monarch made the remarks at the opening of an emergency summit of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation which is expected to endorse a proposal to suspend the membership of war-torn Syria, a move strongly opposed by Iran.
The meeting is being presided over by King Abdullah and is being held in the Al-Safa royal palace in Mecca.
King Abdullah said that through “solidarity we will preserve our history and dignity,” acknowledging that inter-Muslim tension needed to be addressed. He decried bloodshed in a number of Muslim countries and proposed establishing a center for inter-Muslim dialogue, based in Riyadh, to address the problems confronting the Islamic world.
“The appropriate solution lies in solidarity, tolerance and moderation,” the monarch said, stressing the destructive repercussions of inter-Muslim strife. “Because of division, the blood of people in the Islamic umma [nation] is being shed during the month of Ramadan.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose country has openly criticized the push to suspend Syria, is attending the extraordinary meeting, along with the newly elected president of Egypt, Mohammad Mursi, as well as the heads of state and high-ranking officials from several dozen Muslim-majority countries.
The OIC’s foreign ministers recommended that Syria’s membership be suspended, a proposal that will be likely be voted on and endorsed Wednesday, during the final day of the meeting.
Tensions have been simmering for months between Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and Shiite-dominated Iran, as both regional rivals had taken opposite stances on the uprising in Syria.
Iran is the Syrian regime’s biggest regional ally and has pledged full support for President Bashar Assad in his fight to remain in power.