Iran condemns attacks in Saudi Arabia, calls for regional unity

Muslim worshippers gather after a suicide bomber detonated a device near the security headquarters of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia, on July 4, 2016.
Muslim worshippers gather after a suicide bomber detonated a device near the security headquarters of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia, on July 4, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

DUBAI (REUTERS) - Iran condemned attacks targeting Shi'ite Muslims and a sacred site in Saudi Arabia, saying on Tuesday (July 5) it was time the countries set aside their differences to confront Islamist militants.

A suicide bomber killed four security personnel outside the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, the second-holiest site in Islam, on Monday, the same day as devices exploded outside a Shi'ite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia and near the US Consulate in Jeddah.

"There are no more red lines left for terrorists to cross. Sunnis, Shi'ites will both remain victims unless we stand united as one," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

Iran, the leading Shi'ite Muslim power, has been calling for rapprochement with Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, after years of rivalry climaxed in a break-down of diplomatic relations in January.

The countries are both fighting the ultra-hardline Sunni fighters of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - Teheran has sent in troops to confront the movement and other militants in Syria's civil war while Riyadh has been hit by a series of attacks claimed by the militants.

"Terrorism does not have any border and does not recognise any nationality. There is no other solution but to create a regional and international united front against it," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

There was no immediate response from Saudi Arabia, which accuses Iran of spreading sectarian strife by backing Shi'ite militias in Yemen, Iraq and Syria and encouraging discord in the kingdom's largely Shi'ite east.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran in January after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Teheran and Mashhad following Riyadh's execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric.

Their ties have been tested even further by their backing for opposing sides in Syria's war, and by security at annual haj pilgrimage.

More than 2,000 pilgrims, 464 of them Iranian, died in a crush at last year's haj in the sacred Saudi city of Mecca.