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Press Conference by Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary-General

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

16 March 2012

An immediate ceasefire was critical to solving the crisis in Syria, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) stressed at a Headquarters press conference today.

“We cannot reach hospitals, displaced people and those in need,” Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu said. Outlining the OIC’s initiatives in the areas of peace, security, and humanitarian operations, he said the situation in Syria was a matter of great concern, adding that a humanitarian mission was scheduled to arrive in Damascus today.

Emphasizing the importance of resolving the situation through diplomatic means, he expressed support for the mission of the Joint United Nations-League of Arab States Special Envoy, Kofi Annan, and hoped that his “wisdom and experience” would bring about a solution acceptable to everyone. The OIC chief also called for a comprehensive resolution that would address the sensitivities of major stakeholders on the Security Council.

Answering a question on the opposition of the Russian Federation and China to resolutions on Syria, he said there must be a shift in focus. “What not to do has been agreed on time and again,” he pointed out, stressing the need for agreement on what must be done. Any military intervention would bring more devastation and would not be conducive to peace in the country and the region in general, he noted. A solution required dialogue with different players inside and outside Syria, including the Russian Federation and China. While there was an attempt to reach agreement, the violence and fighting must end in order for that to happen.

Asked about a recent conference on the geopolitical significance of Jerusalem, he said the purpose of that meeting had been to help the city’s residents to preserve their rights. “It is not a secret that OIC is against settlements in East Jerusalem,” he said, describing them as illegal. Jerusalem was a holy place for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, he emphasized. “We defend the right of all three religions to live in peace.”

On other matters, he expressed concern about escalating tensions in Afghanistan and the possible backlash from the killing of 16 Afghan civilians, including several children, by a United States soldier. “It is really difficult to understand, but if we go with emotion, it would only add fuel to the fire and the fire will burn all of us,” he said. Although the soldier’s actions were intolerable, “we have to be moderate in our response”, he added.

Another area of concern was Somalia, where the OIC was providing humanitarian assistance to the famine-stricken country, he said.

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For information media • not an official record

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