TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iraq’s interior minister said Saudi Arabia has requested the Baghdad government to help settle the differences between the oil-rich kingdom and Iran.

Qasim al-Araji said Saudi Arabia has asked Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to mediate between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic, the Arabic-language Al Mayadeen TV network reported.

Araji said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia had officially asked him to facilitate bilateral talks between Tehran and Riyadh.

He added that he had informed the Saudi side of Iranians’ opinion that the first step to be taken to ease tensions between Tehran and Riyadh was that Iranian Hajj pilgrims were treated with respect, and allowed to visit Jannat al-Baqi’ cemetery in Medina, according to al-Sumaria television channel.

The Iraqi interior minister further said that Saudi officials had agreed to the demands and gave assurances that Jannat al-Baqi’ was open to Iranians.

Araji stressed that Iraq believes in the need for friendly relations between Tehran and Riyadh, because they contribute to the promotion of security across the Middle East.

Relations between Tehran and Riyadh have strained over the past years after their conflicting views on regional developments, particularly on Yemen and Syria, became more noticeable.

The relations further deteriorated after a crush of pilgrims in Mina, near Saudi Arabia’s Mecca, in September 2015, which killed over 7,000 Hajj pilgrims, including 465 Iranians.

Tehran has blamed the deaths on the Al Saud’s mismanagement of the Hajj pilgrimage and criticized Riyadh for “lack of cooperation” on restoring the rights of families of the victims.