Saudi Arabia Ready to Receive Iraqi Pilgrims
Saudi Arabia welcomes Iraqi pilgrims and will provide them with all facilities, the Emirati Gulf News quoted a senior Saudi official as saying on Monday.
Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed of the northern border area said preparations were completed for receiving the Iraqi pilgrims traveling to the kingdom by road through Arar land outlet. A checkpoint, a hospital and markets were established for this purpose, he told Gulf News.
About 15,000 Iraqi pilgrims are expected to cross the Saudi borders through Arar outlet, which is ready to receive any number of pilgrims approved by authorities of the two countries, said Prince Abdullah.
An Iraqi delegation, headed by the Awqaf and Religious Affairs Minister, paid a six-day visit to the kingdom and discussed with the Saudi officials preparations for this year's pilgrimage, according to the daily.
The Iraqi delegation asked that no more than 16,000 pilgrims be allowed to perform pilgrimage this year. Iraq is expected to fly hundreds of pilgrims to the kingdom despite the Security Council blockade. Baghdad says that these flight transport the elderly and women.
The Arar crossing, shut since the Kuwait invasion, is opened once a year for Iraqi Muslims to travel to Mecca in western Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage, although Baghdad and Riyadh have severed diplomatic ties since the 1991 Gulf War.
However, Saudi Arabia has asked the UN to allow the outlet’s opening for Saudi exports to Iraq under the oil-for-food UN sponsored program – Albawaba.com
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