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Muslim bloc calls for recognition of Palestinian state

Dec. 12, 2013 5:55 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 12, 2013 5:56 P.M.)
CONAKRY (AFP) -- The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called on the international community to recognize the Palestinian Territories as a sovereign state "in the shortest possible time" as it closed its annual conference of foreign ministers on Wednesday.

The ministers welcomed a United Nations decision in November 2012 to elevate the territories to the status of non-member observer state in a declaration adopted at the end of the three-day meeting in the Guinean capital Conakry.

"We welcome the important recent decision by many countries to recognize the state of Palestine ... and urge states that have not yet done so to fulfill their responsibilities under the charter of the United Nations recognizing the State of Palestine in the shortest possible time," the statement said.

The 57-member grouping reiterated its condemnation of "illegal" Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and "acts of violence and terrorism of Israeli settlers" against Palestinian civilians.

It called for "the immediate cessation of violence" in Syria, wracked by conflict between forces loyal to the Ba'athist government of Bashar Assad and rebels seeking to oust it, and the start of a transition towards a "pluralistic, democratic, and civil" country.

The world's largest grouping of Muslim nations also underlined its commitment to working with the international community to combat terrorism and rejected "any attempt to link terrorism to Islam, a particular Islamic country, race, culture, religion, or nationality."

The ministers called for support to "eradicate the terrorist armed groups and drug traffickers" in Mali, which was upended by a coup and sweeping Islamist offensive before a French-led military intervention in January.

The 57-member OIC was founded in 1969 and describes itself on its website as the "collective voice of the Muslim world."
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