Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president and current chairman of the Expediency Council, has called for cooperation by regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia to counter the rise of terrorism.
"The actions of terrorist groups in the region occurred in the shadows of the differences between Islamic governments, which has weakened the Islamic world," Rafsanjani said in a meeting with Iran's ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The contents of the meeting were shared on Rafsanjani's website.
On the terror groups' recruiting of young people, he said, "With the ignorance they have toward an understanding of Islam, they force pure and simple youth to commit anti-Islamic and anti-humanitarian acts with the excuse of jihad and going to heaven.
"To confront extremism and prevent the reproduction of ignorance," he said, "the effort of all Islamic nations, especially Iran and Saudi Arabia, is necessary to maintain stability and security, so that they are not induced to need the help of foreign powers."
On the role of Iran and Saudi Arabia's clergy and sectarian discourse, Rafsanjani said, "The duty of Muslim clergy, especially in Iran and Saudi Arabia as two influential countries in the region, is to invite moderation, unity, brotherliness and good deeds, so as to draw the true image of Islam in their words, writing and behavior."
Rafsanjani, who has close ties with the Saudi Arabian leadership, particularly King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, has in recent years promoted closer ties between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.