Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari urged fellow Islamic countries at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting in Istanbul to back the Iraqi leadership. He asked members to issue a ‘strong, positive message’ towards Iraq’s new administration.

Iraq’s neighbours are to hold separate talks on the fringes of the meeting and may consequently issue a statement, or incorporate them into the official OIC statement.

The UN’s special envoy to Baghdad, Lakhdar Brahimi, on 14 June urged all Islamic nations to respond to the Iraqi government’s appeal, echoing the words of OIC Secretary General, Abdelwahid Belkeziz.

There has been widespread support for the new Iraqi administration, but not for calls for more peacekeepers in the war-torn country.

Another major topic at the meeting has been the need to introduce wider democracy in Islamic countries. Belkeziz called for wide reaching reform around the world to address the region’s poor record on issues ranging from education and health to economic development.

Belkeziz’s leadership of the OIC ends soon and discussions as to who will be the next leader are already under way, with Turkey keen to take the reins.