The 12th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation has opened in Cairo, with Syria's civil war and the battle against al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Mali topping the agenda.

Senegalese President Macky Sall gave the opening remarks on Wednesday, making his last address before handing the OIC's rotating presidency to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

He urged the summit to support the sovereignty of Mali, threatened by "terrorist groups" who are committing "crimes" against the Malian people.

Egyptian President Morsi said there is a need for more education and research efforts in the region [AFP]

President Morsi also addressed the summit. He urged for the maximum use of resources and said that 21 Islamic nations were amongst the poorest in the world. 

He said there is a need for more education and research efforts and raised concerns about Muslim minoroties, citing the Rohingya Muslim minority in Mynmar and called for more co-operation and support among the countries.

Regarding Palestine, he told the sitting, "solving the Palestinian issue is the cornerstone in achieving stability in the region and the world."

Speaking about Syria, he called on all Syrians to take the "rapid necessary and responsible steps until the change is made".

The meeting gathers the leaders of 26 of the OIC's 57 states, including the presidents of Iran and Turkey.

This also marks the first visit to Egypt by an Iranian president since the Islamic revolution in 1979, but the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not been welcomed by all.

A protester was arrested after he threw a shoe at Ahmadinejad, who is also in the country to discuss bilateral ties with Morsi.

"There are those striving to prevent these two great countries from coming together despite the fact that the region's problems require this meeting, especially the Palestinian question," Ahmadinejad said.

Source: Agencies