Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Thursday for closer ties with Saudi Arabia, hailing the kingdom as a “friend and brother” of Iran, state-sponsored Tasnim News Agency reported.

Rouhani was addressing a meeting of Hajj officials in Tehran saying that his government is “willing to remove trivial tensions from the path (of bilateral ties with Saudi Arabia) in order to fulfill bilateral and the Islamic world’s interests.”

“This issue (expansion of ties) has been emphasized both in the Saudi king’s congratulatory letter to me and in my letter to thank him,” Rouhani added.

Rouhani had said on Tuesday that improving relations with neighboring countries is a top priority in his foreign policy agenda.

He also pledged to adopt an approach of openness with Western powers over Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

The relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been tense during the administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both countries have conflicting approaches to regional issues in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

The tension between the two major Mideast powers intensified when the United States foiled in October 2011 an Iranian-linked plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador Adel al-Jubeir in Washington.

The incident was referred to as “Iran assassination plot” in the media and was named by the Federal Bureau of Investigation “Operation Red Coalition.”

Two Iranians, Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, were charged in a federal court in New York.