Ministers recommand Syria's suspension from Islamic bloc
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Foreign ministers preparing for a summit in Mecca of the Islamic Cooperation Organisation on Monday recommended the expulsion of Syria from the 57-nation bloc, its secretary general said.
Asked by reporters whether the foreign ministers had decided to call for a suspension after their meeting in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah to prepare for Tuesday's summit, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said: "Yes."
"The decision has been agreed upon based on consensus with an absolute majority" in favour of suspending Syria's membership, Ihsanoglu said.
It will be put to heads of state at their summit in Mecca on Tuesday and Wednesday for "final approval," he added.
The issue has been a bone of contention between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia. Tehran is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Riyadh is a leading champion of the opposition.
Sources close to the meeting said that only Iran and Algeria were against the recommendation.
"We certainly do not agree with the suspension of any OIC member," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said after the meeting.
"The suspension of the membership does not really resolve the issue and is not in line with the OIC charter," he said. "We have to look for other ways, means and mechanisms for resolving conflicts and crises."
Salehi called for "paving the way for a meeting between the opposition and the Syrian government so they can negotiate with the help of others to reach a Syrian-Syrian solution."