WASHINGTON: The head of a global Islamic group Tuesday called for the United States to be more active in solving conflicts in the Muslim world, including the long-running dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.
In a speech to open the US-Islamic World Forum, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) called on Washington to take a “more active role in seeking solutions to conflict-ridden situations in the Muslim world,” and for a revived Middle East peace process to be the cornerstone of US-Muslim world relations.
“The Middle East peace process should take prevalence in relations between the United States and Muslim world,” Ihsanoglu said, adding that it was “high time” for talks to resume to find a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
US Senator John Kerry called at the three-day US-Islamic World forum in Washington for “anyone here who can intervene and play a role to do so” in reviving the peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.
Officials from more than 30 Muslim majority nations, including Jordan, Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan and Afghanistan are in Washington for the annual meeting, which aims to build greater understanding between the United States and Muslim countries.
In its eighth year, the forum is being held at a time of unprecedented change in the Arab world, with uprisings against autocratic leaders across the Middle East and North Africa, officials said.
Muslim officials insisted, however, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains at the heart of relations with the United States and the Islamic world.
Even as the meeting opened in Washington, diplomats at the United Nations said Washington had blocked a bid to break the deadlock in the Middle East peace process by not agreeing to a meeting in Berlin on Friday where Britain, France and Germany wanted to outline a settlement to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“We all know that if one wants to advance peace in the Middle East you don't put the Palestinian question on the back burner, you put it on the front burner. There has to be a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians,”the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, told AFP.
Direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel collapsed last year.