Iran, Saudi to hold talks on Haj ceremonies

Tehran, Jan 10 (IANS) Iran has received an invitation from Saudi Arabia to discuss preparations for the next annual Haj pilgrimage, an official said on Tuesday.

Iran has “officially received Saudi Arabia’s invitation to meet and hold bilateral talks on the Haj”, Xinhua news agency quoted Ali Qazi-Askar, Iran’s representative for Haj ceremonies, as saying.

Talks would focus on accommodation, transportation, safety, medical care, visas and banking, he said.

Iran would respond to the invitation over the next few days.

After several rounds of meetings last year, Tehran and Riyadh failed to reach an agreement on arrangements for the Iranian pilgrims to join the annual ritual in September 2016.

Iran accused Saudi officials of creating obstacles for its government to send pilgrims to the ceremonies.

Also, Saudi authorities said the Islamic republic was politicising the issues related to the religious rituals.

Iranians were among other pilgrims who died in stampede in 2015 Hajj.

Saudi Arabia in January 2016 cut its diplomatic ties with Iran following attacks on its mission in the country during angry protests against the Saudi execution of a prominent Shia cleric.