Riyadh: British Prime Minister David Cameron held talks with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on Friday, as tensions ran high between the West and Tehran, the oil-rich kingdom's competitor in the Gulf.
   
The two leaders "discussed the importance of the UK-Saudi bilateral relationship and agreed to strengthen cooperation in a range of areas," Cameron's office said in a statement.
   
They "also discussed recent developments in the region, in particular their shared concerns about the situation in Syria, Iran and Yemen," it added.
   
An uprising in Syria has left more than 5,000 people killed since March in a crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, according to a United Nations estimate last month.
   
Yemen has also been rocked by a year of unrest in which hundreds have been killed amid fears of a growing al-Qaeda influence across its southern and eastern provinces due to a weakening central government.
   
Cameron's first visit to the OPEC kingpin also comes as Western governments, including Britain, have moved to step up sanctions over Iran's controversial nuclear programme, threatening an embargo on vital oil exports that has drawn an angry response from Tehran.
   
Iran has threatened to shut the strategic Strait of Hormuz -- a chokepoint for a fifth of the world's oil -- if it is attacked or if heavy sanctions are imposed.
   
"The prime minister also raised our concerns about Somalia and the problems of conflict, piracy and terrorism which threaten Somalis and the wider international community," Cameron's office said.
   
"He briefed the king on the aims of next month's London Conference on Somalia, in particular to catalyse a coordinated international effort focused on practical measures to help Somalis rebuild their country."
   
Somalia has been without an effective central government since president Siad Barre was ousted in 1991 as violence, piracy and famine tear the African country.
   
Saudi state news agency reported earlier that the two leaders discussed "regional and international developments as well as the various means of strengthening cooperation between both countries," without elaborating.
   
The meeting was attended by top Saudi officials. Britain has been seeking to strengthen ties with oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a major market for Western arms deals, and boost exports to its largest Middle East trading partner.
   
Annual bilateral trade is worth 15 billion pounds, while Saudi investments in Britain amount to more than 62 billion pounds.

(Agencies)