Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati on Thursday said that the Islamic Republic will not send pilgrims to Hajj this year because Saudi Arabia is refusing to cooperate on arrangements for Iranians to join the annual rituals in September.
According to Press TV, he said: “Conditions are not prepared for conducting Hajj; we have lost the time; we made our utmost effort but the sabotage is coming from the Saudis.”
An Iranian delegation held four days of talks in Saudi Arabia last month aimed at thrashing out a deal, but with Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran closed since January and Iranian flights to the kingdom halted they hit deadlock.
Jannati said the Saudis had mistreated Iranian delegates headed by chairman of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, Saeid Ouhadi, subjecting them to finger-printing among other hostile procedures.
“Their attitude was cold and inappropriate. They did not accept our proposals concerning the issuing of visas, the transport and security of the pilgrims,” Jannati said.
On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari advised Riyadh against letting its political preferences affect the important Islamic tradition.
Jaberi Ansari said the Saudi government has refused to act on “its recurrent assertions that it would not let political disputes get in the way of the issue of Hajj.”