Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Chairman of Iran's Expediency Council, has called on Iran and Saudi Arabia to cooperate in the fight against extremism in the region.
Meeting in Tehran with the Saudi ambassador to Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani said: “Differences among Islamic countries in the region are giving terrorist groups an opportunity to escalate their activities, and this in turn has weakened the Islamic world.”
ISNA reports that Ayatollah Hashemi said: “With their ignorance regarding the divine concepts of Islam, they are leading innocent and simpleminded youth into performing un-Islamic and inhumane actions under the guise of Jihad and a divine path to heaven.”
Hashemi appears to refer to the DAESH forces now gaining ground in Iraq and declaring the establishment of an “Islamic caliphate.”
“To combat extremism and prevent the growth of ignorance, all Islamic countries must work together, especially Iran and Saudi Arabia, so that they give the impression that they may need foreign powers to protect their stability and security,” Ayatollah Hashemi said.
Following the election of Hassan Rohani, there had been talk of Ayatollah Hashemi travelling to Saudi Arabia to improve relations with the Saudis. Iranian-Saudi relations sank to all-time lows during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency. While Iran has begun improving relations with other Persian Gulf countries, its relations with Saudi Arabia remain tense.
Iranian officials accuse Saudi Arabia of supporting extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.