Russian Prez tells Saudi Arabia of regional unrest concern

Russia had abstained in a UN vote authorising military force in Libya.

Last Updated: Mar 26, 2011, 11:58 AM IST

Moscow: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal that his country was concerned over tensions in the Middle East and North Africa, the Kremlin said on Friday.

The Saudi foreign minister carried a message from King Abdullah, stressing the need to maintain close coordination of policies between Russia and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and North Africa in the face of recent events.

Russia, which abstained in a United Nations vote authorising military force in Libya, has voiced its worries over possible civilian deaths in the armed intervention. Meanwhile, Russia, the world`s top oil producer, has seen crude revenues flooding state coffers as tensions in oil-rich Middle East and North Africa have boosted oil prices.

"The Russian side expressed concern over the sharp jump in tensions in the region," a statement from the Kremlin web site said, describing the details of the meeting.

Saudi Arabia, the second largest producer, has seen unrest rise, especially among its Shi`ite population as protests have rocked the Arab world in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain this year.

A Saudi human rights group said earlier this week authorities arrested 100 protesters last week in the Shi`ite populated areas of Safwa, Qatif and its villages and Hasa.

Saudi Shi`ites complain of discrimination, saying they often struggle to get senior government jobs and benefits available to other citizens. The government of Saudi Arabia, a monarchy that usually does not tolerate public dissent, denies such charges.

Bureau Report