MUSCAT, Oman (AP) — United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon used a stopover in the Middle East on Monday to urge Saudi Arabia and Iran to compromise and interact responsibly, seeking to calm a flare-up in tensions between the two regional rivals.
Ban made the comments during a two-day visit to the sultanate of Oman, which borders Saudi Arabia and shares control of approaches to the Persian Gulf with Iran.
"I hope that both Iran and Saudi Arabia, despite mistrust and difficulties, will bring realism, responsibility and compromise to their dealings, and to the region," Ban said during an address to Oman's National Defense College, according to a text of his remarks provided by the U.N.
He also expressed hope that last month's lifting of sanctions on Iran following its landmark nuclear deal with world powers will lead to "increasingly responsible behavior in the region."
Long-simmering tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalated last month after Saudi authorities executed a prominent Shiite cleric, sparking protests in Iran.
Oman has long maintained contacts with its powerful neighbors, and frequently acts as a discreet mediator to some of the region's thornier disputes.
It hosted secret talks between Washington and Tehran in the lead-up to last year's landmark nuclear deal and, more recently, negotiations aimed at resolving the civil war in neighboring Yemen. It has also helped secure the release of a number of captives held by Yemeni rebels.
Ban praised Oman for its "unique role of bringing people together ... facilitating dialogue and finding common ground."
His visit included talks with senior Omani officials including Yusuf bin Alawi, the minister responsible for foreign affairs.