TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari censured Riyadh for refusing to cooperate with Tehran in facilitating this year’s Hajj pilgrimage for Iranians.
Speaking to reporters at his weekly press briefing in Tehran on Monday, Jaberi Ansari said Saudi authorities have hampered a trip to the Arab country by an Iranian delegation tasked with facilitating affairs related to the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage.
“Iran’s definite policy is to facilitate preparations for the Hajj pilgrimage,” he said.
“Despite all the difficulties and Saudi Arabia’s improper behavior, our policy is to exercise restraint and follow up on (the issue of Hajj pilgrimage) … so that Iranians can perform the obligatory religious duty,” he added.
Last month, Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Saeed Ohadi also took a swipe at Saudi officials for delay in holding negotiations in preparation for the upcoming Hajj rituals.
Saudis have twice postponed the meetings they had pledged to hold with the Iranian officials for negotiations, Ohadi said on March 20.
Tehran has been trying to contact Saudi Hajj authorities for arranging a meeting for talks about Iranians’ possible religious visit to the kingdom for this year’s Hajj season, irrespective of political disputes.
Iran insists that the safety of travelers to Saudi Arabia must be ensured, given the disaster in Mina that killed many Iranian pilgrims in the previous Hajj pilgrimage.
More than 460 Iranians were among the thousands of pilgrims who died on September 24, 2015, in a crush in Mina, near Mecca, during the Hajj pilgrimage.
The incident marked the worst ever tragedy during Hajj.
There have been doubts about participation of Iranian pilgrims in the 2016 Hajj since tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia ran high following Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and a subsequent attack by outraged Iranian protesters on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, which resulted in the Arab country’s decision to sever its ties with the Islamic Republic.
Although Iranian officials criticized the embassy attack and those involved in the attack have been brought to justice, Saudi Arabia has cut off all diplomatic relations with Iran.
By Tasnim News Agency