Vladimir Putin on prospects for Russia's accession to OIC

Russia is ready to take on financial commitments necessary for Russia's accession to the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Vladimir Putin discussed prospects for Russia's entry into the OIC with Veniamin Popov, Russian Ambassador to the OIC and other international Islamic organizations. Mr. Popov is also head of a group dealing with the Islamic factor in international affairs in the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"Membership in the OIC demands financial commitments including those to provide religious activities," the Russian President stressed.

According to him, "it is well grounded." "About 20 mln Russian Moslems have the right to find themselves a part of the Islamic world," Vladimir Putin said.

Russia's initiative to join the OIC "as an observer" was discussed during Vladimir Putin's visit to Malaysia. The Russian President pointed out that "we must make no hasty steps." "The Islamic world welcomes our initiative," Veniamin Popov said.

"It is a very important step for Russian Moslems," he underscored.

"At the first stage of membership in the OIC as an observer the state does not have any financial commitments or deposits," the Russian diplomat said.

The budget of the OIC General Secretariat makes up only $11 mln dollars annually. The psychological factor plays the most important role for Russia's entry into the OIC, Veniamin Popov pointed out.

He also stressed that Russia-OIC contacts are developing. Last year the OIC Secretary General paid a routine visit to Russia. Russia intends to be an observer at the OIC summit in Malaysia due in October, Veniamin Popov said.

The Russian diplomat intends to pay several visits to Moslem states "to clarify Russia's stance."

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