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Iran sends delegation to Saudi for talks on rejoining haj

Iran sends delegation to Saudi for talks on rejoining haj

Iran boycotted last year’s haj

Iran has sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia for talks on Iranians attending haj, state television reported on Wednesday, after Tehran boycotted the Muslim pilgrimage last year.

Relations between the two regional powers, who back rival sides in several Middle East conflicts, worsened after hundreds of people, many of them Iranians, died in a crush at the 2015 pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Iran blamed the disaster on organisers’ incompetence, and boycotted last year’s haj.

Read more: Iranians will be unable to perform haj this year

Iran’s leader condemns Saudi over haj crush, demands bodies of pilgrims

Ties worsened further when Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia executed a Shi’ite cleric in January 2016, angry Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and Riyadh severed diplomatic relations.

Reza Salehi Amiri, Iran’s Islamic guidance and culture minister, told state television that Tehran was seeking guarantees to ensure the “dignity and safety” of the pilgrims before it agrees for the resumption of its participation in the pilgrimage, which starts this year in late August.

The delegation — including officials of Iran’s Haj and Pilgrimage Organization and representatives of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — left for Saudi Arabia late on Tuesday at the invitation of Saudi officials, the television said.

Also read: Saudi King hits out against ‘politicising’ haj


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