Amid tensions, Iran’s oil minister calls Saudi counterpart a friend

Amid tensions, Iran's oil minister calls Saudi counterpart a friend

Iran’s oil minister sought to defuse tensions with Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, calling his counterpart in Riyadh “a friend” and saying Tehran was committed to stability in the region.

The comment came at a top Russian energy conference chaired by President Vladimir Putin, where Iran’s oil minister Bijan Zanganeh met Saudi energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have repeatedly clashed at OPEC meetings over output policies, and tensions between the two countries flared after Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for an attack on Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14., a charge Tehran denies.

The attack remains in the spotlight as it sent OPEC’s oil output to an eight-year low in September, deepening the impact of a supply pact and U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.

Zanganeh, speaking at a conference panel, denied Tehran was trying to raise tensions in the region and spoke warmly of Prince Abdulaziz, a senior member of Saudi royal family who became energy minister last month.

“Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has been a friend for over 22 years,” Zanganeh said.

The two ministers were later seen holding hands together with Barkindo and speaking on the sidelines of the conference in the first such encounter since the attack on the oil facilities.