Moscow and Riyadh in anti-terror talks

The governments of Russia and Saudi Arabia have agreed to work together to tackle terrorism.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal reached agreement with his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, at talks in Moscow on Wednesday.

The issue has dogged relations between the two countries in recent years with Moscow suspecting Chechen separatist rebels of drawing support from the desert kingdom.

The agreement comes as part of a historic visit by the Saudi ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, to Russia this week.

"We mean to set up a bilateral working group involved in the whole set of issues of eradicating international terrorism and coordinate our efforts in this direction," said Mr Ivanov after the talks.

Prince Faisal was quoted by Russian media as saying the new group would "study anti-terrorism issues and develop efficient measures to fight it".

Saudi Arabia, he added, was "waging a ruthless war against terrorism".

Militant threat

As Wednesday's talks were under way, reports came in of a bomb attack on a train in Russia's North Caucasus region, which killed at least five people.

The blast happened close to Chechnya, a mainly Muslim region where rebels have been fighting for independence, sometimes with the support of foreign Islamic militants and, allegedly, financial backing from organisations in Muslim states.

Saudi Arabia itself has experienced an upsurge in attacks this year by internal Islamic militants.

The two foreign ministers also discussed sending an international peacekeeping force to the Middle East.

'New page'

Prince Faisal said that the visit - the first since the collapse of the Soviet Union - had opened up a "new page in bilateral relations based on openness and mutual trust".

On Tuesday, Crown Prince Abdullah met President Vladimir Putin and the two leaders praised each other's states, the world's biggest oil exporters.

Their oil ministers also signed their first formal market agreement, pledging to co-ordinate supply and closely monitor world prices, and an agreement was also reached on forming a gas consortium.

Correspondents say that the two countries have a mutual interest in developing ties in the aftermath of the 11 September terror attacks on America, which led indirectly to a cooling in relations between the US and Saudi Arabia.