Iraq's Foreign Ministry has requested that the Saudi ambassador in Baghdad be replaced after he claimed that Iranian-backed Shiite militias are plotting to assassinate him.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Jamal told The Associated Press that the government on Sunday sent a formal request to Saudi Arabia to replace the kingdom's ambassador in Baghdad, Thamer al-Sabhan. Jamal says al-Sabhan's reported comments are untrue and harm relations between the two countries.

Al-Sabhan was quoted as telling the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper that Iraqi intelligence provided him with information about the assassination plans. He told the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel that "sectarian radical groups" are behind the threats.

Shiite-led Iran and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia are regional rivals and broke off diplomatic ties in January.