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    JAKARTA, February 23, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Mikhail Tsyganov) - On Monday, which is the first day of the Moslem New Year, Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri officially opened the International Conference of Islam Theologians.

    The conference was organized by Indonesian organization Nahdatul Ulama (NU), which is the largest Moslem organization in the world and comprises 40 mln members.

    About 300 prominent experts on Islam from 89 countries of the world, including from Russia, participate in the conference, the organizing committee of the forum disclosed to RIA Novosti. They will discuss issues concerning provision of peace, education, democracy, economic development and coverage of religious issues by mass media.

    "It's for the first time we participate in such conference," Russian Deputy Supreme Mufti, head of the Russian delegation, Farid Salman disclosed to RIA Novosti. "It is important because from the point of theological view there have been no breakthroughs in Islam in the course of the last two centuries - it had been somehow stalled in its development," he said.

    The region of the Southeast Asia is of special importance for Russian Moslems, the Agency's interlocutor stressed. According to him, the role, which the countries of the Persian Gulf played, gradually fades. Meanwhile, the countries of the Southeast Asia, which are sometimes called "young tigers" have the desire and possibilities to provide rapid economic growth and good perspectives, he explained.

    Moreover, this region is characterized by the absence of the so-called pseudo-religious extremism, Finally, it would have been unwise not to grab at the emerged possibility for the development of intergovernmental relations on the whole," Farid Salman said.

    The conference will last until February 25th. Indonesian Vice President Hamza Haz will speak at the closing ceremony of the conference.

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