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Saudi Minister in Talks with Iran Delegation over Hajj: Riyadh

24 February 2017 16:00


A Saudi minister held talks with an Iranian delegation about the possibility of Iranian pilgrims rejoining the annual hajj despite ruptured ties between the two countries, state media reported late Thursday.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have had no diplomatic ties since early last year.

The kingdom’s minister in charge of pilgrimages, Mohammed Bentin, discussed with the Iranians “arrangements concerning participation of the Iranian faithful in this year’s hajj,” the official Saudi Press Agency said.

It did not give more details but said the meeting took place on Thursday in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

SPA said the talks occurred in the context of meetings organized by the pilgrimage ministry with various countries about accommodation and other logistics for the hajj, which will take place around early September.

For the first time in nearly three decades, Iran’s 64,000 pilgrims did not attend last year’s hajj after a tragic crush on 2015 Hajj season.

At least 464 Iranians lost their lives during 2015 tragedy which claimed at least 2,400 lives.

On Wednesday, Iran’s Culture Minister Reza Salehi Amiri confirmed Iran had sent a team to Saudi Arabia.

“Iran’s policy is to send pilgrims to the hajj (this year), of course, if Saudi Arabia accepts our conditions,” Amiri told state television.

“In a letter I’ve written to the Saudi hajj minister I have specified our conditions,” he said.

“If they accept our conditions, we will definitely send pilgrims (this) year, otherwise the responsibility” will be on Saudi Arabia.

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