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    MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov met in the Kremlin with the members of a delegation from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

    "We regard your visit to Moscow as the continuation of the very important, President Putin's historical meeting with the leaders of the Organization of the Islamic Conference at the summit in Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia, fall 2003]," Mr. Ivanov said.

    According to him, after Mr. Putin participated in the summit, "Russia's relations with the Organization of the Islamic Conference started to develop dynamically."

    Mr. Ivanov stressed the mutual interest of Russia and of the OIC in strengthening international stability and developing a dialogue that meets their common interests concerning the problems that both sides face in the Middle East, Iran, Iraq and in other crisis regions in the world.

    "We are also developing our dialogue with regard to the fight against international terrorism," he said. "In a word, we are cooperating in all areas of mutual interest."

    He expressed confidence that "these contacts would become stable and permanent." Mr. Ivanov said that he hoped for "a substantive exchange of opinions [with the OIC members] on all issues of mutual interest."

    The OIC unites more than 50 states with a predominantly Muslim population. Recently, some political quarters in Russia have supported intensifying Russia's cooperation with the organization, which represents the interests of the more than 1 billion Muslims in the world, and even entering the organization because, according to conservative estimates, over 25 million Muslims live in Russia. Last year Mr. Putin participated in the OIC summit in Malaysia as an honorary guest.

    The head of the OIC delegation, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid bin Syed Jaafar Albar, underscored the importance of the Russian president's participation in last year's OIC summit in Malaysia.

    "The decision of President Putin to attend the OIC summit in Kuala Lumpur showed a very important intention to develop relations with Islamic states," the head of the OIC delegation said.

    He praised Mr. Putin's speech at the summit and described it as "substantive and very interesting," and as, "showing a desire to continue and develop cooperation with the OIC."

    The Malaysian minister said that shortly before visiting Moscow, the members of the OIC delegation met with the leadership of the European Union, and that on Thursday they discussed "very important issues" with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

    According to him, "the purpose of the OIC delegation's visits and meetings is the desire to specify the position of Islamic states in the dialogue aimed at finding peace."

    The head of the OIC delegation said that he hoped Russia, as an important member of the Quartet, the international mediators in a Middle East settlement, and as an influential member of the UN Security Council, would take the positions of the OIC into consideration when discussing and solving international stabilization problems.

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