TEHRAN - Iran said on Friday that "biased" French policy was stoking crises in the Middle East after Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused it of "hegemonic" ambitions in the region.

"Unfortunately it seems that France has a biased and partisan approach to the crises in the region and this approach, whether intentionally or not, is even contributing to turning potential crises into real ones," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said. Le Drian made his comments in Iran's arch rival Saudi Arabia on Thursday during a visit aimed at resolving a crisis sparked by the shock resignation earlier this month of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a staunch critic of Iran.

Hariri's resignation, which has not been accepted by President Michel Aoun, was widely seen as the latest salvo in an intensifying proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which back opposing sides in regional conflicts in countries including Syria and Yemen.

Qatar compares Saudi actions in Lebanon to Gulf crisis

Qatar’s foreign minister on Friday compared Saudi Arabia’s political maneuvers in Lebanon to its boycott of his country, and accused Riyadh of a dangerous escalation. Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, in Washington to push the Gulf emirate’s case in its diplomatic stand-off with the kingdom and its allies, said Saudi Arabia has triggered crises across the region.

He insisted Qatar is ready to come to the table to resolve the dispute under US mediation, and played down reports that President Donald Trump has taken Riyadh’s side.

But he maintained Qatar’s tough stance, arguing that Riyadh is responsible for detonating a series of Middle East crises, by intervening in Lebanon, boycotting Qatar and bombing Yemen.

“This is something we have just witnessed in the region: Bullying small countries into submission,” the foreign minister said, suggesting that Saudi aggression is a new regional threat