Instead they are calling for foreign forces to be "evicted" from Iraq.

The call was made at the launch of the most powerful and significant gatherings of Muslim countries.

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), also called for Muslims to take responsibility for peacekeeping in Iraq ... but only under the authority of the United Nations.

Malaysian Foreign Minister, Sayyid Hamid Albar, said Islamic countries should decline requests to send troops to the war-ravaged country to help the US-led coalition that toppled Saddam Hussein.

“You cannot have peacekeepers from countries which are not Muslim,” Sayyid Hamid told a news conference in Malaysia's administrative capital, Putrajaya, where the conference is being hosted. 

“It must be done under the umbrella of the UN. We cannot take part if it is still under the US,” he said.

Iraq, Israel

With as many as 35 heads of state expected to attend, talks are expected to be dominated by Iraq, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

The meeting takes place once every three years. Delegations from Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council and a Palestinian representative have travelled to the forum.

Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, will attend the gathering, along with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, Abd Allah bin Abd al-Aziz, Iranian President Muhammad Khatami and Egyptian President Husni Mubarak.

“We expect a very positive attitude towards Iraq, that the Islamic nations will support Iraq to pass over this difficult situation”

Riyadh al-Fadhli,
head of Iraq's delegation of senior officials

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and Philippine President, Gloria Arroyo, will be present as observers, while the UN will be represented by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“We expect a very positive attitude towards Iraq, that the Islamic nations will support Iraq to pass over this difficult situation,” the head of Iraq's delegation of senior officials, Riyadh al-Fadhli, told reporters.

“We are not asking anything specific from the OIC. Funds from the UN agencies will be much more realistic aid to help the Iraqi people,” he added.

Storm

OIC Secretary-General, Abd al-Wahid Belkeziz, told reporters in Malaysia that since the last summit, which was held in Doha in 2000, the Muslim world had been “in the face of the storm”.

In turn, he appealed for Islamic commitment to address the situation, following the US-led invasion “with a view to salvaging Iraq and helping its people.”

The initial move, he said, should be “the eviction of foreign forces from Iraq, allowing the United Nations to administer Iraqi affairs, prelude to the restoration of Iraq's independence, and to the rebuilding of what has been destroyed over the past 20 years, all in accordance with a clear and short time-table.”

The Palestinian issue also will likely be a prominent feature of the agenda.

Belkeziz fired the opening shots of what is likely to be a sustained attack on Israel, saying that the situation was worsening daily because of Israel's failure to fulfil its obligations under the “road map” for peace.

National leaders are expected to arrive next week.