DUBAI Iran's foreign minister accused Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday of fomenting strife in the Middle East, rebuffing his accusation that Iran was trying to dominate the region.
"It would be better if those who have created irreparable damages with their strategic mistakes and lofty politics would adopt responsible policies," Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.
"Under the current circumstances, all countries must work toward establishing stability and preventing the spread of insecurity in the region," Zarif, who is attending negotiations on Iran's disputed nuclear program in Switzerland, added.
Erdogan declared his support on Thursday for a Saudi-led military operation in Yemen targeting the Houthis, and suggested the group's links to Tehran were evidence of Iranian ambitions.
"Iran is trying to dominate the region... This has begun annoying us, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. This is really not tolerable and Iran has to see this," Erdogan said at a press conference.
He later implied in a television interview that Iran had forces inside Yemen, saying that "Iran and the terrorist groups must withdraw".
Tehran supports the Houthis but denies giving them military support or having its own forces in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and Arab allies launched air strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen on Thursday and Friday in support of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, whose forces had been pushed back to the southern city of Aden.
Tensions between Iran and Turkey have increased as Iran has taken a larger role in the fight against Islamic State. Iran has sent military commanders to lead irregular forces in Iraq and Syria, both of which border Turkey.
(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Writing by Sam Wilkin; editing by Ralph Boulton)