Saudi, Russia in talks to sign nuclear pact: report
Moscow and Riyadh are locked in talks to sign a framework agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation, a local daily reported on Tuesday quoting the Russian ambassador to the kingdom.
"Signing a nuclear agreement between the two countries will open room for (further) cooperation between them," Oleg Ozerov told Al-Watan daily.
"We believe that if a final agreement was reached with the Saudi part it will be a start for positive and constructive technical and nuclear cooperation between Riyadh and Moscow," he added.
Nuclear cooperation will pave the way for the oil-rich Gulf monarchy to implement a civil atomic programme, said Ozerov.
The world's largest oil supplier is taking a strong interest in developing nuclear energy for domestic use.
The Saudi government has authorised the head of the new King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energies to draft a pact with Moscow on nuclear cooperation, Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja told the official SPA news agency in October.
In July, the cabinet gave the nod to a similar pact with France, which diplomats say is close to being ready for signing. That follows a 2008 nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States.
In April, the government announced the establishment of the centre for research and development into nuclear and renewable energies, and named former commerce minister Hashem bin Abdullah Yamani as its head.
Plans are being drawn up to construct the centre in the desert northwest of Riyadh, officials said at a water and electricity conference in early October.
© 2010 AFP