Saudi FM remarks hollow: Iran official
The spokesman for the Iranian administration has slammed the comments by the Saudi foreign minister against the Islamic Republic following the deadly Hajj stampede as “hollow and cheap.”
In a press briefing in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Tuesday, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht blasted Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir for accusing Iran of politicizing the September 24 tragedy.
“We should accept that we are talking about a hostile state; such cheap and hollow comments by the Saudi foreign minister are not surprising. Saudi Arabia is a lackey of the US,” Nobakht said, urging Saudi authorities to act responsibly in dealing with the issue.
Riyadh says 769 people were killed in the crush of pilgrims in Mina valley, near the holy city of Mecca. Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Saeed Ohadi, however, has estimated that the total death toll from the crush could stand at around 4,700.
With 239 Iranian pilgrims among the dead, Iran recorded the largest number of fatalities in the incident. Officials in Tehran say the incompetence and mismanagement of those in charge in Saudi Arabia is to blame for the tragedy.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called for “an independent and precise investigation into the cause of this disaster and ways of preventing its reoccurrence.”
Rouhani cut short a trip to the UN headquarters in New York and arrived in Tehran on Tuesday to attend the funeral of the victims of the crush.
The Iranian government spokesman also reacted to reports that the Saudi foreign minister refused a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. Nobakht said, “The Saudi government has nothing to say and that’s why the foreign minister of this country goes into hiding and does not speak with our foreign minister, so we are forced to use other means at our disposal to solve this problem.”
Muslims will not forgive Riyadh
Iran’s Minister of Intelligence Seyyed Mohammad Alavi has also slammed the Saudi government for its negligence in the deadly incident, saying Muslims around the world will not forgive Riyadh.
“The negligence of Al Saud rulers caused this incident and the unwise conduct that they displayed after the Mina tragedy gave this tragedy the appearance of a crime and Muslim world will not forgive them for their behavior,” Alavi said on Tuesday, criticizing the Saudi government for not allowing delegations from other countries, including Iran, to enter the kingdom and pursue the fate of their nationals.
The Saudi government has so far refused to grant a visa to Iranian Culture Minister Ali Janati, who is supposed to head a special delegation tasked with following up on the cases of those Iranians who are missing or injured. The latest figures show that 241 Iranian pilgrims are unaccounted for, while officials say 27 people have also been injured and are currently receiving treatments in Iranian and Saudi health facilities in the kingdom.
Missing diplomat may be dead
Also on Tuesday, officials in Tehran repeated their previous stance regarding the fate of a missing Iranian diplomat who remains unaccounted for five days after the Mina incident.
Iran’s Minister of Judiciary Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi rejected reports that Saudi authorities have no official record on the entry of Ghazanfar Roknabadi to the kingdom for performing the Hajj rituals, saying there is abundant evidence showing that the diplomat used an ordinary passport and traveled to the Saudi territory through legal channels.
Pour-Mohammadi said Iran will use all of its official and unofficial tools to follow up on the fate of all Iranian nationals who are missing, including Roknabadi.
He said there has been no convincing report on the fate of Roknabadi, adding that the former Iranian ambassador to Lebanon “may be among the dead.”