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    JIDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA, January 15, 2004. /RIA Novosti correspondent/ - Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov is positive that his visit to Saudi Arabia will strengthen relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

    "The visit will go beyond the discussion of Saudi Arabia's aid to the Chechen Republic and may strengthen relations between Russia and the Saudi Kingdom in general," Kadyrov told journalists.

    During the visit he will give the Russian President's personal message to Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdallah ibn Abd al-Aziz al-Saud, the Chechen president said.

    Kadyrov intends to pay special attention to the problems of Russia's admission to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, he added. "Russia has a right to do so, as over twenty million Muslims live here, and the country's leadership headed by President Vladimir Putin are doing their best so that Muslims could practice their religion freely," he pointed out.

    The schedule of the visit is rather tight, Kadyrov announced. "I have 11 official meetings and talks scheduled. For example, I will meet the Crown Prince, government ministers, representatives of the Islamic Bank and other organizations," he explained.

    The Chechen President recalled that the visit to Saudi Arabia was his first foreign trip as head of the Chechen Republic. "I consider the invitation as Saudi Arabia's recognition of the fact that the counter-terrorist operation /in the North Caucasus/ is conducted to eradicate terrorism and banditry and does not encroach on Muslims' interests in any way," Kadyrov said.

    "Even first hours in Saudi Arabia have demonstrated that the visit is extremely well organized and that the Saudi Arabia pays much attention to it," he added.

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