Muslims end summit, denounce terrorism in the name of Islam 3-day Tehran conference is called success for Iran, unity of Islamic nations

December 12, 1997|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

TEHRAN, IRAN WIRE SERVICES CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE. — TEHRAN, Iran -- Leaders of the Muslim world concluded a unity summit here by denouncing terrorists who kill in the name of Islam and urging nations to stop sheltering them.

The conference participants also issued a declaration attacking Israel for building settlements on what it called Palestinian lands -- a policy they characterized as "state terrorism."

The three-day summit in Iran brought together leaders of 55 Islamic countries. Some participants called it a success both for Iran and the Muslim world.

Former enemies met under the banner of Muslim unity and took steps to forge new relationships.

Iran's new president, Mohammad Khatami, met for 25 minutes with Iraqi Deputy President Taha Yassin Ramadan, the neighbors' highest-level contact since their 1980-1988 war.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt, key U.S. allies in the region, put aside long-standing concerns over Iran's alleged support of Islamic militants in their countries to attend.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said the conference brought about "some understanding and some movement in the right direction" between his country and Iran.

Crown Prince Abdullah, the highest-ranking member of the Saudi government to visit Iran since Tehran's 1979 revolution, met twice with Khatami, a reform-minded cleric who called for dialogue with other cultures, including the West.

Khatami's speech on the opening day of the conference contrasted sharply with that of Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei, who wields ultimate power in Iran, blasted the United States and Israel as Islam's arch enemies.

But Khatami's message resonated with many conference participants. U.N. Secretary-General Koffi Annan told reporters that the message he would take back to New York was that "there is a government in Iran with a president who is a man of his times who is willing to work with other nations."

Annan described Khatami as "an inspiring leader" who believes in the rule of law and recognizes that "the only legitimate base to power is the will of the people."

But one Pakistani diplomat noted that under Iran's constitution, Khamenei is supreme ruler.

"The problem is, they have two governments," he said.

Conference delegates spoke out against countries that signed military agreements with Israel -- a slap at Turkey, which made two such agreements last year.

Although a conference resolution did not identify Turkey by name, it said such agreements pose a danger "to the security of Islamic countries."

On the issue of terrorism, a conference declaration said: "The killing of innocent people is forbidden in Islam," and urged conference members not to give asylum to Islamic militants who commit acts of terror in the name of Islam.

But one delegate questioned whether resolutions passed during the conference would lead to changes. "Unfortunately, this conference doesn't have any leverage to put the resolutions into practice," he said.

A dispute grew, meanwhile, between Iraq and its neighbor, Jordan, as Amman protested the execution by Iraq of four Jordanians accused of smuggling.

Jordan said Wednesday it was expelling all but seven Iraqi diplomats from Amman and recalling its charge d'affaires from Baghdad in retaliation for the executions.

Ignoring the personal intervention of Jordan's King Hussein, Iraq on Monday executed the four, who were charged with smuggling car parts worth $850.

Iraq has "great love for the sisterly Jordanian people [but] we cannot be lenient and forgive or be easy with criminals," said the official Iraqi News Agency, noting that smuggling is a capital offense.

Pub Date: 12/12/97

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