MOSCOW, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Moscow is concerned that the conflict in Mali may spread to neighboring countries, a high-ranking Russian diplomat said Friday.
"There is a risk that the conflict may affect the neighboring countries of the Sahel region, which have similar problems," the Interfax news agency quoted Russian Ambassador to Mali Alexei Dulyan as saying.
Dulyan noted that the countries in the region were not capable of resolving the problems without outside assistance.
"Therefore," the ambassador said, "united efforts to prevent extremism and terrorism is needed."
The diplomat also said Mali's natural resources were among the reasons for the conflict.
"Mali is rich in valuable natural resources, including gold, uranium, oil and iron," Dulyan said. "Clearly, the natural resources factor is a component in the complex set of problems that led to the current crisis."
Russian citizens working at the embassy in Mali may be evacuated if the situation deteriorated, he said.
"Currently, we have no plans to reduce the embassy staff. If the situation worsens, additional measures will be taken, which may include partial or full evacuation," the ambassador said.