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KUALA LUMPUR-- A major Islamic forum kicked off here on Thursday to discuss issues and solutions to problems affecting Islamic countries.
The three-day Kuala Lumpur Summit will see leaders, government representatives and scholars of issues including economic development, sustainability and security.
In his royal address, Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah urged those present to seek knowledge, strive for good governance and adapt to globalization so as to move the community forward in a challenging and rapidly changing world.
"Today, collectively, Islamic countries have come a long way, with great achievements. Yet, we are confronted by some of the most difficult challenges of the developing world. Many segments of our communities are still victims of poverty and underdevelopment. Basic necessities of food and shelter remain elusive to many," he said.
He said solving these challenges is a "daunting task" which requires their major "undertakings."
"However, I believe this should not hinder us from our efforts towards our noble goal of achieving unity amongst our diverse but yet rich and vibrant communities," he added.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told delegates that Islamic countries needed to build up themselves and strive to be self-sufficient while cultivating close and mutually beneficial ties in order to maintain their sovereignty and resist undue foreign pressure, whether through economic or military means.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani were among the foreign heads of government who addressed delegates, with all three calling for unity among Muslim nations.
Erdogan said he hoped the summit will contribute to the unity of the Muslim community and strengthen its solidarity.
"From trade to politics, from foreign policy to defense industry and technology, we face figures far below our potential," he said, urging Islamic countries to boost cooperation.
Participants in the summit, themed "The Role of Development in Achieving National Sovereignty" comprised thinkers, intellectuals, politicians and community leaders.
Discussions will be framed by seven thrusts, namely national development and sovereignty; integrity and good governance; culture and identity; justice and freedom; peace, security and defence; trade and investment; and technology and Internet governance.