Saudi says Iraq charge it backs terrorism is 'ludicrous'

Foreign Minister hits back at accusation by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. (Getty Images)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. (Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia dismissed on Thursday an accusation by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that the kingdom backed Sunni militants who seized swathes of northern Iraq last week.

"The Iraqi prime minister accuses the Kingdom of being a sponsor of terrorism, which is a ludicrous charge, when Saudi Arabia has criminalized terrorism, especially ISIL," Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told reporters inJeddah, referring to the militant Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Shi'ite-led Iraqi government has repeatedly accused its Sunni Gulf neighbours of backing insurgents inIraq's restive West. The unfolding crisis has brought relations to a new low.

"I think the country that has suffered most from terrorism and combating terrorism and continuing to combat it...is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," Prince Saud said.

"(Our) advice to the Iraqi official to combat terrorism in his country is to follow the policy which the Kingdom is following and not to accuse it of being with terrorism...praise be to God we have cleaned our country of this epidemic," he added, in an apparent reference to Maliki.

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