DUBAI - Iran's foreign ministry said the country was not linked to a group of alleged spies arrested in Saudi Arabia, Iranian media reported on Sunday. Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that it had detained an Iranian, a Lebanese, and 16 Saudis for spying. Political analysts and media in Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being behind the alleged espionage. The two countries are locked in a struggle for influence across the region, backing opposing sides in Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Gulf Arab foreign ministers, meeting in Riyadh last month, condemned what they said was Iranian "meddling" in their countries - an accusation Tehran rejects.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, denied that an Iranian national was involved in the alleged spy ring and called the allegations a "repetitive scenario", according to Iran's English-language Press TV on Sunday.

"Raising such baseless issues at the media level is merely for domestic consumption," he said, according to Press TV.

A spokesman for Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry said on Sunday the alleged spies were "collecting information, vital information about a number of installations" but did not specify what these were or whether they were connected to oil output.

Leaders of Saudi Arabia's Shia minority have also criticized the arrests of 16 members of their community, which they said sought to exploit sectarian tension.