DUBAI - King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia congratulated moderate cleric Hassan Rohani on winning Iran's presidential election, hailing what he described as Rohani's wish to improve relations between the two countries, rivals for influence in the oil-rich Gulf.
Ties between world No. 1 oil exporter Saudi Arabia and regional competitor Iran are tense over many issues, notably the war in Syria, where they back rival combatants, political unrest in Bahrain, and a dispute over Iran's pursuit of nuclear power.
The official Saudi Press Agency reported late on Sunday that the king had sent a cable of congratulations wishing Rohani "permanent good health and happiness and the people of Iran steady progress and prosperity."
It added: "The King lauded Rohani's statements on his keenness to cooperate and improve relations between the two countries."