Iran said Monday it would use diplomacy to change Saudi Arabia’s “unfriendly” behaviour after accusing its regional rival of encouraging the weeks-long protest movement sparked by death of Mahsa Amini.

Tehran accuses Riyadh of funding hostile media organisations, and last week threatened to retaliate against the Gulf kingdom’s “destabilising actions”.

Mahsa Amini, 22, died on September 16, three days after being arrested for reportedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women.

Dozens of people — mainly protesters but also members of the security forces — have been killed since the protests began, according to the authorities.

“Our country does not seek conflict in the region and adheres to the path of negotiations with Saudi Arabia,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani told reporters.

He said Iran would not “incite instability in the region”, adding that Tehran considered its neighbours’ security “as its own”.

The two countries severed ties in 2016 when protesters attacked Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic missions in Iran, following the execution of a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric by Riyadh.

Since April 2021, Iraq has acted as mediator and hosted a series of talks between security officials from both countries.

When questioned on the progress of talks, Kanani said he hoped diplomacy would “rectify the unfriendly behaviour of Saudi Arabia”.

He also accused the United States of promoting “Iran-ophobia”, saying Washington “stirs up agitation to hinder constructive dialogue” between Riyadh and Tehran.

At the end of October, Iran’s intelligence ministry accused the CIA spy agency and its “allies from the United Kingdom, Israel and Saudi Arabia of plotting” against Iran.

The US and Iran cut diplomatic relations in 1980.

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