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Iran offers condolences to Saudi after king’s death

IRAN offered condolences Friday to the people and government of Saudi Arabia upon the death of King Abdullah and said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would travel to Riyadh.

In a statement on its foreign ministry website, Iran said Zarif “will take part in an official ceremony” in the Saudi capital on Saturday, without giving further details.

Iran and Saudi, seen as the region’s foremost Shiite and Sunni Muslim powers, have had troubled relations in recent years after taking different sides in the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Iran has backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Riyadh supported Sunni rebels trying to topple him.

Since the election of moderate President Hassan Rouhani in June 2013, Iran has engaged in a diplomatic push with Saudi Arabia.

However relations have soured in recent months over the falling price of oil.

Both countries are members of the OPEC cartel but Iranian officials have expressed frustration at Saudi Arabia for not taking steps to cut supply.

Iran has been among the oil exporting countries worst hit by the fall — prices have more than halved since June 2014 — as its current budget is based on sales at $100 (90 euros) per barrel.

Oil prices surged Friday following the death of Abdullah, with investors watching to see if his successor will maintain output in the face of a global supply glut



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