Cooperation with OIC picking up pace, says Russia

Grain deal's extension depends on implementation of parts relating to lifting sanctions on Russian food, fertilizers, says foreign minister.

Cooperation with OIC picking up pace, says Russia

Russia's cooperation with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is picking up pace, Moscow said on Monday.

"Today we have stated that our dialogue with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is gaining momentum, spreading to new areas," said Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking at a news conference after a meeting with OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha.

Russia will take part in several planned OIC events this year, including meetings of ministers of economy, finance, and informatics, Lavrov told reporters following the meeting in Moscow.

According to Lavrov, the OIC secretary-general's visit to Russia would include the signing of an agreement with Russia's Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

"This symbolizes the further strengthening of ties in the scientific, educational and humanitarian spheres," he stressed.

Turning to the implementation of a deal signed earlier this year on the export of grain from Ukraine, Lavrov said Russia requested the UN provide information on the final recipients of the cargo.

He said European countries admitted to receiving most of the Ukrainian grain, explaining that they distributed it around the world, including the poorest countries.

"We would like to have a clearer picture, so we asked the UN Secretariat, which is engaged in this whole operation and which has all the data, to provide statistics on the movement of grain to the final destination, where the final consumer is located," he said.

Lavrov added that the second part of the deal, which suggested lifting sanctions from Russian food and fertilizer exports, was being ignored.

"We need clear legal waivers, legal exceptions from the sanctions" on the entry of Russian ships to European ports and foreign vessels to Russian ports, along with sanctions on freight and insurance, he said, adding that these "decisively affect the free export of Russian grain to meet the needs of our counterparties."

Lavrov stressed that all issues hindering shipments of the Russian food and fertilizer must be resolved before discussing the matter of extending the grain deal.

The foreign minister also voiced concern over Western policy on energy resources, saying it "complicates energy trade."

Asked about a recent statement by the Russian Defense Ministry warning that Ukraine may use "a dirty bomb" -- an explosive device with radioactive components -- Lavrov said Russia took steps in the UN aiming to address the situation.

He also said he was unaware of a decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency to send a mission to Ukraine over concerns on the issue.

"I have information that such a request (to send an expert mission to Ukraine) was received by Mr. (IAEA director general Rafael) Grossi, and he, going on a trip abroad, said that he would consider this request," Lavrov said.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed on Sunday that Ukraine was planning a provocation with the use of a "dirty bomb" to accuse Russia of using nuclear weapons and prompt Western countries to retaliate.