Iran

Tehran, Riyadh Finalizing Talks on 2017 Hajj Pilgrimage: Official

Negotiations between Tehran and Riyadh about the dispatch of Iranian nationals to Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrimage this summer are being finalized, the representative of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Hajj and pilgrimage affairs said.

“Up to now, desirable agreements have been reached with the Saudi side,” Ali Qazi-Askar said on Tuesday.

He expressed the hope that grounds would be provided for ideal, calm and dignified Hajj pilgrimage for Iranians given the agreements.

Speaking to reporters in Tehran earlier this month, Qazi-Askar had said that if the remaining issues are completely resolved, the two sides will witness the dispatch of Iranian nationals for Hajj pilgrimage.

“In the next (Iranian) year, we will dispatch at least 80,000 Hajj pilgrims to the Land of Revelation (Mecca),” he said at the time.

An Iranian delegation traveled to Saudi Arabia on February 23 at the invitation of the Arab kingdom for the talks on the Hajj pilgrimage of Iranians.

More than 1.8 million faithful took part in last year’s Hajj, but Iranians stayed at home after tensions between Riyadh and Tehran boiled over following a deadly crush of people during the 2015 pilgrimage.

On September 24, 2015, thousands of people lost their lives in the crush after Saudi authorities blocked a road in Mina during a ritual, forcing large crowds of pilgrims to collide.

The crush was the deadliest incident in the history of the pilgrimage. Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed in the incident, but officials at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 7,000 people, including over 460 Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives.

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