Iran’s Foreign Ministry denied that secret negotiations are taking place with Saudi Arabia as rumors mounted that the Islamic republic and the kingdom have both sought to reduce tensions over recent months. The reports in Russia’s RT and by Kurdistan24 journalist Barzan Sadiq said that Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi denied rumors circulating in recent days about discussions between the two countries.The denial comes after The Wall Street Journal reported that the two rival nations had been in direct contact, as well as through intermediaries such as Oman, Kuwait, Pakistan and others. The countries want to ease tensions; The Washington Post also reported Saudi “secret talks with Iran to ease tensions.” According to the Monday reports, Mousavi denied any secret negotiations between Riyadh and Tehran but noted that other countries are seeking to mitigate tensions. These countries may include Oman, whose foreign minister visited Iran three times this year and recently met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The meetings were held in July, September and December.Tensions rose between Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as other Gulf states in May when the US warned of Iranian aggression. Since then, Iran attacked oil tankers in May and July in the Gulf of Oman, downed a US drone, attacked the Saudi Arabia Abqaiq oil facility, has threatened shipping in the Gulf, launched drones from Yemen and fired rockets at US bases in Iraq.Riyadh, which recently hosted the Gulf Cooperation Council, has been cautious in responding. Mousavi says that countries are working in good faith to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Any direct negotiations, however, have only dealt with issues relating to the pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj. “I am not aware of the existence of other negotiations,” he said, but added that Tehran hopes that Saudi Arabia will “hold the hand of friendship that Iran extends toward it.” Iran says it wants stability in the region and that security can come through some rapprochement.Zarif was in Doha this week to speak at the Doha Forum and also discuss implementing Iran’s “Hormuz Peace Endeavor – HOPE” initiative for the Gulf. This can “promote solidarity, mutual understanding, and peaceful and friendly relations.”He told the audience in Doha that Iran is friends with Qatar and stands with Qatar against the blockade that was imposed by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt in 2017. He compared it to Saddam Hussein’s push for regional hegemony. “None of us have benefited from this prevailing paradigm.” He condemned Riyadh’s war in Yemen as well, adding that countries in the region that spend huge amounts on arms will not buy peace or stability through the arms trade.