Russia and Saudi Arabia have signed an agreement to work together on "peaceful" nuclear energy projects, according to local media.

The kingdom intends to form a committee with Russia to implement mutually beneficial nuclear energy schemes, the Saudi Gazette reported. Nikolai Drozdov, international projects director at Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom was quoted as saying the agreement "includes expansion in the field of nuclear fuel, establishment of desalination plants, exploring the interdisciplinary fields of nuclear energy and other domains such as medicine and agriculture and training sessions between the two countries".

A particular goal for Saudi Arabia is to use nuclear energy to solve electricity and water shortages with plans to establish 16 nuclear power plants within the next 25 years, Drozdov said, but it must first build the necessary infrastructure. It plans to meet at least 20% of its electricity needs from nuclear. "Considering the lack of infrastructure in the Kingdom, its goal is quite ambitious. However, there is a great need for Saudi Arabia to establish nuclear power plants," Drozdov said.

Russia is already working with Egypt to establish water desalination plants and proposes a similar cooperation agreement on nuclear projects with Saudi Arabia. He added Russia intends to host a conference this year showcasing "project opportunities Russian scientists can offer to the Saudi market".