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Iran says Saudis seeking tension, calls Riyadh comments 'destructive'

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran accused Saudi Arabia on Wednesday of seeking tension in the region, saying the Saudi deputy crown prince had made “destructive” comments by ruling out dialogue with Tehran.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi defence minister and a son of King Salman, said in unusually blunt remarks on Tuesday that he would protect his kingdom from what he called Iranian efforts to dominate the Muslim world.

“These comments are proof that Saudi Arabia supports terrorism and seeks confrontational and destructive policies in the region and toward Iran,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state media.

He said such remarks, in the most optimistic of scenarios, showed Saudis lacked a correct understanding of regional issues.

Tehran and Riyadh have no diplomatic relations at present. Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran in 2016 when Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite Muslim cleric.

Saudi Arabia and Iran compete for influence in the Middle East, supporting rival groups in Syria’s civil war.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; editing by Mark Heinrich