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Draft: Islamic summit to urge Syria transition

Feb. 5, 2013 6:04 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 6, 2013 2:13 A.M.)
CAIRO (Reuters) -- Leaders of Islamic nations will call for a dialogue between the Syrian opposition and government officials "not involved in oppression" to end two years of civil war, a draft communique seen by Reuters on Tuesday said.

The declaration, due to be issued after a two-day summit of 56-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Cairo starting on Wednesday, does not mention President Bashar Assad and pins most of the blame on his government for continued violence.

The text discussed by foreign ministers at a preparatory meeting on Tuesday came after Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib offered to meet Assad's deputy to negotiate a way to end the bloodshed, in which the United Nations says at least 60,000 people have died.

"We strongly condemn the ongoing bloodshed in Syria and underline the Syrian government's primary responsibility for the continued violence and destruction of property," the draft communique said.

"We express grave concern over the deteriorating situation the increasing frequency of killing which claims the lives of thousands of unarmed civilians and the perpetration of massacres in towns and villages by the Syrian authorities."

It was not clear whether Syria's ally Iran, which is attending the OIC summit, would back the tough wording.

However, Alkhatib, leader of the Syrian National Coalition, made his offer of talks after ground-breaking meetings with the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran, Assad's two main allies, at a security conference in Germany.

The OIC suspended Syria's membership last August, citing Assad's violent suppression of the revolt.

The summit draft called on Syrian opposition forces to speed up the formation of a transitional government "and to be ready to assume the political responsibility in full until the completion of the desired political change process."

"We urge the Syrian regime to show wisdom and call for serious dialogue to take place between the national coalition of the Syrian revolution, opposition forces, and representatives of the Syrian government committed to political transformation in Syria and those who have not been directly involved in any form of oppression ...," the text said.

A Syrian opposition source said the Syrian National Coalition had not been invited to the summit and would not be present, although Alkhatib's headquarters is in Cairo.
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