Islamic states urge "serious dialogue" on Syria

Leaders meet at the OIC summit in Cairo on February 6, 2013. (AFP/Egyptian Presidency)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation called for a peaceful resolution to the Syrian conflict through "serious dialogue" between the regime and its foes, at a summit in Cairo on Thursday.

The OIC called for "a serious dialogue between the opposition (National) Coalition and government officials who believe in political change and are not directly involved in the repression" in Syria, said spokesman Tareq Ali Bakhit.

Such dialogue should "pave the way for a transition that will allow the Syrian people to achieve their aspirations for democratic change," the OIC spokesman told AFP, citing the summit's final statement.

The summit is being held in the absence of Syria which the 57-member OIC suspended in August because of a bloody crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

It called for "a peaceful solution" to the conflict which has been ravaging Syria for nearly 23 months.

"The Syrian government is primarily responsible for the violence," said the statement, which urged the UN Security Council to "assume its responsibilities to end the violence and bloodshed."

Iran, the Assad regime's top regional ally, had "reservations about a passage or two" in the statement on Syria, OIC secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told a news conference.

Iraq and Lebanon also expressed reservations about the text, according to a source close to delegates at the summit.

The Syrian conflict, which the UN says has killed more than 60,000 people, has divided the Security Council, with China and Russia having blocked three resolutions critical of the Assad regime.

Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, leader of the National Coalition umbrella opposition bloc, has offered to hold peace talks with Syria's Vice President Faruq al-Sharaa.

But his proposal has been rejected by the Syrian National Council, the main component of the Coalition, while the embattled regime in Damascus has yet to publicly respond to it.

Leaders meet at the OIC summit in Cairo on February 6, 2013. (AFP/Egyptian Presidency)

The Syrian government is primarily responsible for the violence.