Iranians may take part in Hajj this year: FM

Tasnim– Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the country may send nationals to Saudi Arabia to participate in the Hajj rituals this year.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet session in Tehran on Wednesday, Zarif said the Islamic Republic is seeking to establish constructive relations with neighboring countries, including Saudi Arabia.

He added that following the efforts made by the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, Iran may dispatch nationals to Saudi Arabia for Hajj this year.

On Tuesday, the representative of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Hajj and pilgrimage affairs said negotiations between Tehran and Riyadh about the dispatch of Iranian pilgrims are being finalized.

“Up to now, desirable agreements have been reached with the Saudi side,” Ali Qazi-Askar said.

He expressed the hope that grounds would be provided for ideal, calm and dignified Hajj pilgrimage for Iranians given the agreements.

An Iranian delegation traveled to Saudi Arabia on February 23 at the invitation of the Arab kingdom for the talks on the Hajj pilgrimage of Iranians.

More than 1.8 million faithful took part in last year’s Hajj, but Iranians stayed at home after tensions between Riyadh and Tehran boiled over following a deadly crush of people during the 2015 pilgrimage.

On September 24, 2015, thousands of people lost their lives in the crush after Saudi authorities blocked a road in Mina during a ritual, forcing large crowds of pilgrims to collide.

The crush was the deadliest incident in the history of the pilgrimage. Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed in the incident, but officials at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 7,000 people, including over 460 Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives.