Iran may reconsider decision to send pilgrims to Hajj

IFP- Iran says it may reconsider its earlier decision to send Iranian pilgrims to this year’s Hajj as Riyadh has not yet issued visas for the Iranian diplomats supposed to leave for Saudi Arabia before the annual rituals begin.

Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi has expressed misgivings over the circumstances surrounding the upcoming Hajj rituals in Saudi Arabia.

In a Farsi interview with ICANA, the top legislator voiced concern over the issue “given that Iran and Saudi Arabia don’t have formal relations at the moment, and all of Iran’s ties with the Saudi government are handled by a third country which safeguards the interests [of both sides].”

“When relations are in a normal state, it falls upon the Iranian embassy in Riyadh or Iran’s Consulate in Jeddah to contact the Saudi government and different institutions of the country to discuss the provision of Iranian pilgrims’ security and other issues related to the Hajj and Iranian pilgrims,” said Boroujerdi.

However, he added, Iran does not have a consulate general or an embassy in Saudi Arabia right now.

Riyadh’s Agreement to Receive Iranian Diplomats

“Under an agreement reached two months ago with the head of the [Iranian] Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, it was decided that ten diplomats from the Iranian Foreign Ministry with diplomatic immunity be sent to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Boroujerdi said they were scheduled to receive VIP access cards and hold talks after getting settled down.

No Visas Yet for Iranian Diplomats

He said one month has passed now since the agreement was reached.

“Saudi Arabia was supposed to issue visas to the ten diplomats in late June, by they haven’t been issued with visas, yet. While the first flight taking Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia will leave in ten days’ time, no diplomatic delegation has departed for Saudi Arabia yet.”

“This is while, under the already reached agreement, the diplomatic team should get settled down in Saudi Arabia first. But at the moment, we have no people in Saudi Arabia to defend our pilgrims,” he added.

“Security and policy issues concerning the Saudi government are handled through diplomatic channels, but as Iran does not have an embassy and consulate general [in Saudi Arabia], such issues should be handled through the 10-strong [diplomatic] team that haven’t been issued with visas, yet.”

Riyadh Responsible for Any Possible Problems

He also said Riyadh will be accountable for any future problems regarding the Hajj rituals.

“If the Saudi government and Hajj Ministry do not make good on their commitments, as they haven’t lived up to their obligations completely so far, Riyadh should be taken to task for any problems which might occur concerning the Hajj issue.”

Iran’s Hajj Authority Should Pursue Saudi Deal

Boroujerdi urged the Iranian Ministry of Hajj and Pilgrimage to follow up on the implementation of the agreement signed with Saudi Arabia.

“We wish to have the best and most decent Hajj rituals this year, but the requirements for that have not been fulfilled yet.”