MOSCOW, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Russia is seriously concerned about civilian casualties from Israel's operation in Gaza, President Dmitry Medvedev told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday, the Kremlin said.
"The Russian side expressed its serious concern over the numerous victims among the civilian population and the grave humanitarian situation," the Kremlin said in a statement describing a telephone coversation between the two men.
"The Russian president also stressed the importance of a ceasefire as soon as possible."
Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and one of the Quartet of Middle East mediators.
Alexander Saltanov, a deputy foreign minister and Medvedev's special envoy for the Middle East, flew to the region on Sunday to press for a ceasefire, the foreign ministry said.