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Global - December 7, 2019

Iran’s Hajj organization chief in Saudi Arabia for talks

 

TEHRAN – Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Alireza Rashidian left Tehran for Saudi Arabia on Saturday to hold talks with Saudi officials over the next year’s Umrah Hajj rituals.

According to IRNA, the visit comes after an invitation by the Saudi Hajj and Umrah minister.

 

Rashidian said prior to his departure that he will review arrangements with Saudi officials to ensure the security of Iranian pilgrims performing the Umrah Hajj rituals.

He also hoped that the Iranian pilgrims will perform Hajj given that all conditions are met.

 

Tensions ran high between Tehran and Riyadh after Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in January 2016, and a subsequent attack by outraged Iranian protesters on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Senior Iranian officials including Leader of the Islamic Revolution condemned the attack on the embassy. However, the Arab country used the attack as a pretext to expel Iranian diplomats and sever ties with the Islamic Republic.

 

Prior to the embassy attack, a deadly crush of Hajj pilgrims in September 2015 caused friction between Tehran and Riyadh. Tehran blamed mismanagement for the incident. More than 460 Iranians lost their lives in the crush.

During a visit to Saudi Arabia in December 2018, Rashidian held meetings with officials from the kingdom’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah about the 2019 Hajj season.

 

The two sides signed an agreement at the conclusion of the meetings aimed at making better arrangements for Iranian pilgrims and preventing the problems they faced in previous years.

 

MH/PA

 

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