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    Russian Muslims hope Obama will improve U.S.-Russia ties

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    Russian Muslims hope that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will be able to improve relations between Washington and Moscow, a deputy head of the Council of Muftis of Russia said on Saturday.

    MOSCOW, November 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Muslims hope that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will be able to improve relations between Washington and Moscow, a deputy head of the Council of Muftis of Russia said on Saturday.

    "First of all, we congratulate Obama with the victory. We hope that relations between our countries will improve," Damir Gizatullin said.

    Relations between Russia and the U.S. have plunged to a post-Cold War low in recent years over a host of differences, including the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in Central Europe and a brief conflict in August between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, a Georgian breakaway republic.

    Gizatullin added that Russian Muslims have a positive opinion of the newly elected U.S. president and are happy with his election.

    "It is probably because the new U.S. president has Islamic roots," he said.

    Democrat Obama, who is the first African American to be elected U.S. president, had a Kenyan grandfather who was a Muslim and spent some of his early years in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation on Earth. U.S. public opinion surveys consistently showed a significant number of voters - 10% or more - believed he was or might be a Muslim.

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