Iranian official leaves for Saudi Arabia to discuss next year Hajj

Tasnim – The head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization started an official visit to Saudi Arabia to hold talks with senior officials of the Arab country about ways to facilitate Iranian nationals’ pilgrimage during next year’s Hajj season.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Alireza Rashidian left Tehran for Saudi Arabia on Sunday morning at the official invitation of the Saudi Hajj minister.

Every year representatives of countries whose nationals attend the Hajj pilgrimage exchange views with Saudi Hajj officials about ways to facilitate the presence of their nationals in Saudi Arabia.

Last year, more than 86,000 Iranian pilgrims attended the Hajj rituals.

In 2016, more than 1.8 million pilgrims attended 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 deadly 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. According to an Associated Press count based on official statements from the 36 countries that lost citizens in the disaster, more than 2,400 pilgrims were killed in the incident.

Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed, but officials at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 7,000 people, including over 460 Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives.