ISTANBUL (AP) — Muslim nations have agreed to establish a Turkey-based body to fight terrorism, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday as he urged the countries' leaders to examine the root causes of the migration crisis.
Addressing the 13th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, Erdogan stressed his belief that terrorism is the largest problem confronting the Muslim world.
To effectively combat terrorism, he urged Muslim leaders to overcome their differences and tackle the problem from the security and financial tracks. He called for support for a Saudi-led initiative for an Islamic alliance against terrorism and to "turn it into an effective body."
"Instead of waiting for other forces to intervene against terror incidents and other crises that occur in Muslim countries, we must produce the solution ourselves through the Islamic alliance," he said.
Erdogan announced that a Turkish proposal to establish an Istanbul-based police cooperation and coordination center had been accepted by the 57-member Islamic bloc.
The Turkish president noted that the majority of the victims of terrorism are Muslims and called it a "source of shame" that most of those who risk their lives at sea to reach Europe are Muslims.
Turkey, he said, has saved 100,000 migrants from drowning in the Aegean Sea on the way to Greece
The country also hosts 2.7 million Syrian refugees and recently entered a controversial deal with the EU aiming to curb illegal migration.
Combatting terrorism and addressing the migrant crisis are two central issues being discussed at the OIC meeting.
Turkey, which has suffered a string of deadly suicide bombings this past year, boosted security in Istanbul and shut down traffic in the area of the event.
Saudi King Salman and Iranian President Rouhani, whose countries are at odds over the Syrian and Yemeni conflict, were among those attending the summit.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was notably absent. Relations between Egypt and Turkey soured after the Egyptian military toppled Islamist president-elect Mohammed Morsi.
The conflict in Syria was also on the summit's agenda.
Egyptian foreign Minister Sameh Shukri voiced hope for a "quick political solution that meets the expectations of the Syrian people" and allows for "countering terrorism."
Suzan Fraser in Ankara and Ayse Wieting in Istanbul contributed reporting.