Former US president Bill Clinton has said the publication in the West of cartoons satirising Prophet Muhammad was a mistake.
Clinton: The cartoons were an opportunity to build bridges with the West
But he also said an opportunity to build bridges between the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds had been lost in the way the dispute had developed.
The cartoons, first published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September, have angered Muslims worldwide.
Islamic tradition explicitly prohibits any depiction of Allah and the Prophet.
Mr Clinton made his comments in Pakistan where he was launching an HIV/Aids project.
"I strongly disagree with the creation and publication of cartoons that are considered blasphemous by the Muslims around the world," the AFP news agency quotes him as saying.
"I thought it was a mistake."
But he lamented the escalation of differences over the issue.
"I had no objections to Muslims who were demonstrating in a peaceful way their convictions.
"I thought [the cartoons issue] was also a great opportunity which I fear has been squandered to build bridges," AFP reports.
At least 17 people have died in Pakistan and Afghanistan in violent protests over the cartoons.
The Danish embassies in Beirut and Damascus were also attacked.
The images, that have since been reprinted by several other European publications, include one portraying Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.