Saudi Arabia refusing to cooperate on Hajj

Saudi Arabia refusing to cooperate on Hajj

Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati says Saudi Arabia is refusing to cooperate on arrangements for Iranians to join the annual rituals in September.

 The minister announced on Thursday that the Iranian pilgrims won’t be sent to Hajj this year.

“Conditions are not prepared for conducting Hajj; we have lost the time; we made our utmost effort but the sabotage is coming from the Saudis,” Jannati said, adding, "Saudi officials say our pilgrims must travel to another country to make their visa applications."

The Iranian culture minister also noted that the Saudis had mistreated members of an Iranian delegation, subjecting them to finger-printing among other hostile procedures. “Their attitude was cold and inappropriate. They did not accept our proposals concerning the issuing of visas, the transport and security of the pilgrims.”

On Wednesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said that the Saudi government has refused to act on “its recurrent assertions that it would not let political disputes get in the way of the issue of Hajj.” He also advised Riyadh against letting its political preferences affect the important Islamic tradition.

The developments came after the Iranian delegates headed by chairman of Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, Saeid Ouhadi held four days of talks in Saudi Arabia last month aimed at thrashing out a deal. However with Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran closed since January and Iranian flights to the kingdom halted they hit deadlock.

On January 3, Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran following attacks on vacant Saudi diplomatic perimeters in the Iranian capital and the holy city of Mashhad by angry people protesting the kingdom's execution of prominent internationally-reputed  Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Iran has been insisting that Saudi Arabia issue visas through the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which has looked after Saudi interests since Riyadh broke off ties early this year.

According to Iranian Foreign Ministry, Tehran has said it is ready to swiftly issue visas for Saudi visa officers to perform the procedure at the Swiss diplomatic mission or elsewhere in Tehran

Another contentious issue has been security, after a massive stampede on September 24, 2015 at last year's Hajj claimed lives of more than 2,400 foreign pilgrims, including 464 Iranians.


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