CAIRO, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- The 12th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), dubbed "Muslim World... Many Challenges and Growing Chances", continues with the attendance of 26 heads of states who gathered in Cairo for the first time to tackle the challenges facing the Muslim world.
Senegalese President Macky Sall, who led the OIC 11th summit, handed over summit presidency to his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Morsi, who gave a warm welcome to the participant heads of states and dignitaries.
In his opening speech, Morsi denounced extremism and Islamophobia as major challenges facing the Muslim world.
With regards to the Syrian conflict, Morsi urged all Syrian opposition factions to unite to solve the Syrian crisis, reaffirming Egypt's rejection of foreign military interference in Syria.
The Egyptian president also said the Palestinian issue was one of the major challenges facing the Islamic states and "a cornerstone to achieve security and stability in the Middle East region and the whole world."
Describing the Palestinian issue as "our central cause and the great goal of our organization," Morsi urged member states to support the Palestinian people "to restore their legitimate rights and establish their own sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital city."
He congratulated the Palestinian people on the United Nations General Assembly's decision to grant the Palestinians the status of a non-member observer state.
Meanwhile, Morsi expressed concern over the escalating situation in Mali, stressing Egypt's support for the unity of Malian territories and the safety of its people.
Morsi called for "the establishment of an active mechanism to peacefully settle disputes and deal with all the crises facing Islamic states."
Afterwards, Saudi Arabia's Deputy Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz made a statement on behalf of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, where he stressed that the Arab-Israeli conflict was the major challenge facing the Muslim world.
The Saudi prince condemned alleged Israeli aggression on the Palestinians and Israel's settlement construction policies, voicing support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as an enhancement of peace and security in the region.
Regarding Syria, Abdulaziz highlighted the worsening humanitarian conditions of displaced Syrians due to almost two years of bloodshed, calling on the international community, particularly the United Nations Security Council, to take necessary measures "to deter the crimes committed against Syrian people and complete transfer of power by all possible means."
For his part, Turkish President Abdullah Gul pinpointed the significance of economic cooperation between Islamic states, stating the greater challenge facing the Muslim world was to achieve economic growth that would suit its capabilities and meet the aspirations of its peoples.
He called for "finding a joint economic, technological and social strategy for the Muslim world" to overcome relevant challenges that would have great political and security reflections on all Islamic states.
In his statement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the Islamic states to support the Palestinian people to overcome the financial and economic crises due to the Israeli besiege on Palestinian territories and seizure of Palestinian funds.
Abbas also urged Islamic states to implement the strategic plan for the development of vital Palestinian sectors adopted by the OIC summit in August 2012 in Saudi Arabia's Mecca, calling on the OIC general-secretariat and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to mobilize necessary financial resources for the plan.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki stressed the necessity for united efforts of Islamic states to face the crises "motivated by internal actions or foreign agendas," urging unity between OIC member states to combat terrorism that threatens their futures and gives a desperate image of Islam.
On the sidelines of the OIC summit, Morsi, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Gul held a closed meeting on the Syrian crisis and the recent initiative of Syria's Cairo-based exiled opposition coalition Moaz al-Khatib, who expressed readiness for dialogue with the government of Bashar al-Assad to stop the bloodshed in Syria.
As Saudi Arabia, one of the quartet committee members on Syria, has missed this meeting just like previous ones, observers believe that the kingdom avoids meeting with Iran due to disagreements on Syria and other issues including alleged Iranian interference in the affairs of the Gulf states.