Iranian Official Raps Riyadh for Non-Cooperation on Upcoming Hajj
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Saeed Ohadi criticized Saudi Hajj authorities for declining to issue visas for members of an Iranian delegation tasked with facilitating affairs related to the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage.
Speaking to the Tasnim News Agency, Ohadi said Saudi Arabia has not taken any positive measures to ensure Iranian pilgrims’ participation in this year’s annual Hajj.
Contracts to offer services to Iranian pilgrims and facilitate their accommodation and transportation affairs have not yet been signed between the two countries due to Riyadh’s lack of cooperation, he added.
Ohadi disapproved of Saudi officials’ move to close down an affiliated office of the Islamic Republic’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization in the Arab country.
The Iranian official described it as an inappropriate move, saying the office had been merely assigned the task of providing essential services to Iranian pilgrims.
Ohadi had earlier taken a swipe at the Arab country’s officials for delay in holding negotiations in preparation for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage.
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 last month 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.