An Iranian official announced that an Iranian delegation will be dispatched to Saudi Arabia next month to discuss the possible attendance of Iranian pilgrims in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.
According to a report by IFP, Iran Leader’s Representative in Hajj and Pilgrimage Affairs Ali Qazi-Askar announced that Iran will send a delegation to Saudi Arabia on February 23 for bilateral talks on Iran’s attendance in Hajj pilgrimage.
Qazi-Askar had earlier on Monday noted that Iran has “officially received Saudi Arabia’s invitation to meet and hold bilateral talks on the Hajj.”
He added that the talks would focus on accommodation, transportation, safety, medical care, visas and banking.
In September 2015, a deadly human crush occurred during Hajj rituals in Mina, near Mecca. Days into the incident, Saudi Arabia published a death toll of 770 but refused to update it despite gradually surging fatality figures from individual countries whose nationals had been among the victims of the crush. Iran said about 4,700 people, including over 465 of its nationals, lost their lives in the incident.
Earlier that month, a massive construction crane had collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 pilgrims, including 11 Iranians, and injuring over 200 others, among them 32 Iranian nationals.
Serious questions were raised about the competence of Saudi authorities to manage the Hajj rituals in the wake of the incidents, and, facing Saudi intransigence to cooperate and refusal to guarantee the safety of Iranian pilgrims, officials in the Islamic Republic subsequently decided to halt pilgrimages over security concerns.
Saudi Arabia unilaterally severed its diplomatic ties with Iran in January this year after protests in front of its diplomatic premises in Tehran and Mashhad against the execution by Riyadh of prominent Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.