Saudi Arabia invites Iranian delegation to discuss Hajj
Meetings between Iranian and Saudi Hajj ministers has been delayed due to political tension over last year's Hajj disaster that killed thousands and a break in diplomatic ties earlier this year. (File photo)
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Saudi Arabia has officially invited an Iranian delegation to discuss new arrangements for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, says the head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization.
On Wednesday, Saeed Ohadi said if the Iranian delegates’ visas are issued, they will travel to Riyadh for the April 14 meeting.
He noted that similar to former procedures, a letter of agreement will be signed over sending Iranian pilgrims to Mecca if the two sides agree on its terms.
"In previous years, we held a meeting with the Saudi Hajj minister in mid-January, but this year's meeting has already been delayed for three months," he said, adding that Saudi Arabia had promised to issue the Iranian delegates' visas on Wednesday.
Ohadi stressed that issues such as Saudi Arabia’s plans for insuring the security of this year’s pilgrims and compensation for the relatives of the Iranians killed in last year's tragedy will be high on the agenda during the meeting.
The deadly crush that killed thousands last year in Mina - the cause of which remains disputed - ratcheted up already high tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The crush was the deadliest incident in the history of the pilgrimage. According to an Associated Press count based on official statements from the 36 countries that lost citizens in the disaster, more than 2,400 pilgrims were killed in the incident.