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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Islamic states rally to new Iraq
Unidentified delegate on last day of OIC conference
Three days of intense talks took their toll on some
Foreign ministers of 57 mainly Muslim countries have pledged to assist Iraq's interim government and renewed support for the Palestinian cause.

The ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference - the world's largest Islamic forum - made the pledge in Istanbul at the end of annual talks.

"We have decided to actively assist Iraq in its transition and in meeting its needs," they said in a declaration.

An interim government is due to take office in Iraq after 30 June.

The OIC did not specify what form the assistance would take.

It said it backed "steps toward ending the occupation of Iraq" and said the transfer of power from the US-led coalition "must be full".

The BBC's Jonny Dymond says the declaration ought to give the Iraqi interim government a psychological boost even if it falls short of specific aid.

UN role

On the Middle East, the ministers declared their support for the Palestinian people and urged international efforts to restrain Israel and work toward resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.

They called for United Nations peacekeeping forces to be sent to the Palestinian territories.

The three-day meeting also saw a Turk elected as the new secretary general of the OIC.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, 61, who is head of the OIC's Istanbul-based cultural arm, will hold the post for four years.


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