Saudi Arabia invites Iran to discuss hajj arrangements

Saudi Arabia invites Iran to discuss hajj arrangements
2 min read
10 January, 2017
An Iranian official confirmed on Monday that Saudi Arabia has invited Tehran to discuss arrangements for the annual Muslim hajj, which the Islamic Republic boycotted last year.
More than 1.8 million Muslims took part in this year's hajj [Getty]
Saudi Arabia has invited Iran to discuss arrangements for the annual hajj, which Tehran boycotted last year after failing to reach an agreement with Riyadh over security matters following the death of hundreds of its nationals in the 2015 pilgrimage.

The kingdom "officially" invited Iran "to meet and hold bilateral talks on hajj," Ali Ghaziaskar, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative for hajj affairs, said on Monday.

The talks will focus on accommodation, transportation, safety, medical case, visas and baking, Tehran's state news agency IRNA quoted Ghaziaskar as saying.

Iran's foreign ministry denied last week it received an invitation from Saudi Arabia to next year's hajj, Reuters reported.

More than 1.8 million Muslims took part in this year's hajj, but Iranians stayed at home after tensions between Riyadh and Tehran boiled over following a deadly stampede during the 2015 pilgrimage.

Iran says it lost 464 people in the crush outside Mecca.

They were among more than 2,300 people killed in the worst ever disaster to strike the hajj - one of the five pillars of Islam - which capable Muslims must perform at least once.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are at odds over a raft of regional issues, notably the conflicts in Syria and Yemen in which they support opposing sides.

Riyadh cut ties with Tehran in January 2016 after Iranian demonstrators torched its embassy and a consulate following its execution of leading Saudi Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Since then, relations have still remained tense with Saudi Arabia accusing Iran of fomenting unrest in the region and inside the kingdom.