Tensions escalated between Saudi Arabia and Iran after Iranian protesters set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against the execution cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities. (AFP Photo)
Russia is ready to serve as an intermediary to resolve the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran that saw the kingdom break off diplomatic relations with Tehran, the foreign ministry said today.
"We ask... Tehran, Riyadh and other Gulf countries to show restraint," the ministry said in a statement, as it called on Saudi Arabia and Iran to take "the path of dialogue".
"Russia is ready to support such efforts," the statement said, adding that "Moscow is deeply concerned by the latest escalation of the situation in the Middle East caused by the major regional powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran."
Earlier, a foreign ministry source had told AFP that "Russia is ready to serve as an intermediary between Riyadh and Tehran".
Another unnamed Russian diplomatic source quoted by TASS news agency said Moscow was ready to host the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers -- Adel al-Jubeir and Mohammad Javad Zarif -- for talks.
"If our partners Saudi Arabia and Iran show they are ready and willing (to meet), our initiative will remain on the table," the source said.
Saudi Arabia announced Sunday it was severing its ties to Iran after its embassy in Tehran was firebombed in protest at the kingdom's execution of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Nimr was a force behind 2011 anti-government protests in eastern Saudi Arabia, where Shiites have long complained of marginalisation.
Sunni-led Bahrain followed suit and cut ties with Iran, while the United Arab Emirates recalled its ambassador from Iran and downgraded diplomatic relations with Tehran.
Oil-rich Tehran and Riyadh have been divided over the nearly five-year war in Syria, where Iran is backing the regime, and the conflict in Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Shiite rebels.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosted both Jubeir and Zarif individually last year for talks on the Syrian crisis as Moscow pushed for the creation of a broad coalition to fight ISIS terrorists in Syria.