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    MOSCOW APPRECIATIVE OF ISLAMIC NATIONS' INTEREST IN COOPERATION

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    MOSCOW, May 20 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government appreciates Islamic nations' interest in developing cooperation with Russia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday as he opened talks with the visiting Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Abdelouahed Belkeziz.

    "We highly appreciate Islamic states' position in favor of developing relations with Russia, and expect these relations to gain new momentum at the forthcoming foreign ministerial meeting in Istanbul," Mr. Lavrov said.

    Later in the day, the Russian Foreign Minister also met with his visiting Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul. Opening the meeting, Mr. Lavrov said Russia was determined to bring Russo-Turkish relations to the level of wide-ranging partnership. He expressed thanks to Mr. Gul and the Turkish government for supporting Russia's request that it be granted observer status in the OIC.

    One other meeting on Mr. Lavrov's busy schedule today was with the Senegalese Foreign Minister, Sheik Tidiane Gadio.

    The OIC Secretary General and the foreign ministers of Turkey and Senegal are currently in Moscow as part of a delegation sent in by the Organization of the Islamic Conference for negotiations on Mideastern settlement. The OIC Committee decided to send missions to Middle East Quartet member states at its emergency session in Malaysia on April 22. That session was devoted specifically to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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