Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov and secretary general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Abdelouahed Belkeziz will discuss in Moscow the situation around Iraq, the Middle East settlement and issues of combating terrorism, Russian foreign ministry official spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told RIA Novosti. He stressed that Belkaziz was making his first visit to Russia, and Moscow hopes that it will give the necessary impetus to the "positive dynamics" of relations between Russia and the OIC. The foreign ministry says Russia is going to expand its collaboration with the OIC "in the interests of maintaining peace and security in the world." The foreign ministry believes that the OIC is the most influential international organisation of the Islamic states, which incorporates 57 countries. It has more than once called for peaceful settlement of the situation around Iraq.
In the course of negotiations, the sides will also exchange opinions on the place and role of Moslems in Russia, and on the normalisation of the situation in Chechnya. The issue of enhancing mutual understanding and collaboration with the OIC on a wide range of international and regional problems is very important for Russia whose Moslem population exceeds 20 million people. For its part, the OIC points to the need of differentiating Islam from international terrorism and not without grounds hopes for Moscow's support in this sphere.
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference was created in 1969 and unites 57 states, including six former Soviet republics.