The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Putin avoids Iraq at meet

Putrajaya (Malaysia), Oct. 16 (Reuters): Faced with a hall full of Muslim leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin avoided mentioning the hottest subject of all — Iraq.

Instead, in a private teleconference during the Islamic summit in Malaysia, he agreed with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to support a controversial UN resolution on Iraq’s reconstruction drafted by the US. Schroeder broke the news in Brussels, saying the European trio would vote for the resolution, but would give no aid to Iraq because of the inadequacy of the US proposals.

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit opened today with emotions running high over the occupation of Iraq and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

But despite being the Islamic world’s biggest issues, the 57-member body struggles to have influence on either, and its hopes of the UN taking the central role in Iraq will be dashed if the US resolution goes through.

Host Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, soon to retire and making his valedictory appearance at an OIC summit, declared that over 50 years of fighting had accomplished nothing for the Palestinians. But the Jewish people enjoyed the influence of a world power, Mahathir said.

Yet faith could lead Muslims to victory at the negotiating table, the veteran Southeast Asian leader said. “The Quran tells us that when the enemy sues for peace we must react positively,” he told the summiteers, adding that his words would not be popular.

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