CONAKRY : The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation called on the international community to support an independent Palestinian state as it opened a conference on Monday also focusing on the crises in Syria and Mali.

Outgoing chairman Mahmoud Ali Youssouf described the Palestinian issue as the “central question” for the world’s largest grouping of Muslim nations as he launched its three-day Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in the Guinean capital Conakry. “It is incumbent upon us to continue our advocacy for the creation of a Palestinian state recognised by the United Nations,” he said.

“To this end it is for the international community to take measures to put an end to the Israeli occupation, the continuation of settlements on Palestinian land and abuses committed against the Palestinian people.”

He welcomed the return to democracy in Mali following presidential and parliamentary elections in the west African nation, which was upended by a coup and sweeping Islamist offensive before a French-led military intervention in January.

But he condemned the “failure of the international community” to end the bloodshed in Syria, wracked by conflict between forces loyal to the Ba’athist government of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels seeking to oust it.

“With over 100,000 dead and more than two million refugees and displaced persons, we call for an end to this fratricidal war through measures and actions to ensure a successful transition to the Syrian people’s rights and freedoms,” he said.

The 57-member OIC was founded in 1969 and describes itself on its website as the “collective voice of the Muslim world”.