Iran confirms receiving Saudi invitation for Hajj talks
PRESSTV (Iran) Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:55AM
Iran has confirmed receiving an invitation to discuss preparations for the
next annual Hajj pilgrimage from Saudi Arabia.
Seyyed Ali Qazi-Askar, the representative of Leader of the Islamic
Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for Hajj, said on Monday that Iran
had "officially received Saudi Arabia's invitation to meet and hold
bilateral talks on the Hajj."
He added that the talks would focus on accommodation, transportation,
safety, medical care, visas and banking, and that Iran would respond to the
invitation over the next few days.
Last week, a senior Iranian official dismissed reports that Saudi Arabia had
invited Iran to discuss the resumption of Iranians' participation in Hajj
“Contrary to the report published by some media outlets about the extension
of an invitation by Saudi Arabia for Iran’s participation in this year’s
Hajj rituals, we have received no invitation,” the head of Iran's Hajj and
Pilgrimage Organization, Hamid Mohammadi, had said.
In September 2015, a deadly human crush occurred during Hajj rituals in
Mina, near Mecca. Days into the incident, Saudi Arabia published a death
toll of 770 but refused to update it despite gradually surging fatality
figures from individual countries whose nationals had been among the victims
of the crush. Iran said about 4,700 people, including over 465 of its
nationals, lost their lives in the incident.
Earlier that same month, a massive construction crane had collapsed into
Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 pilgrims, including 11 Iranians,
and injuring over 200 others, among them 32 Iranian nationals.
Serious questions were raised about the competence of Saudi authorities to
manage the Hajj rituals in the wake of the incidents, and, facing Saudi
intransigence to cooperate and refusal to guarantee the safety of Iranian
pilgrims, officials in the Islamic Republic subsequently decided to halt
pilgrimages over security concerns.
Saudi Arabia unilaterally severed its diplomatic ties with Iran in January
this year after protests in front of its diplomatic premises in Tehran and
Mashhad against the execution by Riyadh of prominent Saudi Shia cleric
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.