Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW: The Organisation of Islamic Conference intends to strengthen relations with Russia, the OIC chief has said.

Speaking at the end of his first visit to Russia, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said that relations between Russia and the OIC "have a great future."

We share many common positions, and we are happy that Russia is keen to strengthen relations with the Islamic world and OIC," Mr. Ekmeleddin told the Kommersant daily.

"Russia takes the side of the Islamic world on the more sensitive issues. It is under President (Vladimir Putin) that Russia has been restoring and consolidating positions in

the Islamic world that the Soviet Union held."

During his meeting with Mr Putin, he expressed satisfaction that Russia had received an observer status in the OIC last year, and noted "broad new perspectives for the development of relations between Russia and all the OIC member states."

Mr. Putin, in turn, described relations with the Islamic world as "one of our country's main foreign policy priorities. We hope for continued and fruitful development of our relations with all the countries of the Islamic world and with the OIC," the Russian leader said. In the interview to the Kommersant, Mr. Ekmeleddin said a new OIC Charter to be approved at the summit in Dakar, Senegal, in 2008, will facilitate greater involvement of Russia in the organisation.