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Signs of Sunni-Shia confrontation appear in Middle East — Russian FM

May 27, 2015, 13:11 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Sergey Lavrov pointed with regret to the growth of destabilizing trends in the region

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MOSCOW, May 27. /TASS/. The signs of region-wide confrontation between Sunnis and Shias are becoming visible in the Middle East, it’s necessary to take steps to overcome these differences, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the participants in the 42nd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The text of his speech has been posted at the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"The situation in Yemen that fell outside the scope of the clashes between the warring factions and grew into a large-scale armed conflict and the response of the regional countries to it, in our view , confirm that the signs of region-wide confrontation between adherents of Sunni and Shia schools of thought are becoming visible in the Middle East," he said. "Geopolitical contradictions coupled with inter-confessional tensions are a factor contributing to the severity and duration of the crises."

Russia’s top diplomat added that, alongside with efforts aimed at ensuring peaceful settlement in various countries of the Middle East and North Africa, it was necessary to take active steps to prevent disputes between Sunnis and Shias from escalating into something more serious.

Lavrov pointed with regret to the growth of destabilizing trends in the region. "The crisis situations in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen have assumed the character of protracted fratricidal conflicts involving an increasing number of countries in the region," he said. "They have led to deaths and suffering of hundreds of thousands of people, caused the collapse of the economy, the destruction of statehood and public order."

He noted that such course of events played into the hands of extremists and terrorists whose ambitions extended far beyond that. "They side with each other, grab vast territories and claim to be the arbiters of fate in the Islamic world." "Terrorist groups operating in Iraq, Syria and a number of African countries commit heinous crimes, among which is the destruction and persecution of adherents of other faiths, including Christians," Russia’s top diplomat said.

Lavrov expressed hope that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation established with a view of strengthening the unity and solidarity of the Muslim peoples "would initiate timely measures to restore trust and mutual understanding between followers of different Islamic movements and would mobilize for that the substantial potential of Islamic religious figures, scientists and social forces."

For our part, we are ready to render all possible assistance to such efforts in the interests of strengthening the traditionally friendly ties and multi-faceted cooperation between Russia and Islamic states to ensure peace, stability and prosperity of our peoples," Lavrov said.

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