By Haroon Balogun
AS Iranians mourn and buried former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in a show of unity to honour the Islamic Republic’s polarising pragmatist, the country has began talks with Saudi Arabia on the next hajj pilgrimage coming up in August this year. The meeting, it was gathered through Agency reports was at the instance of Saudi Arabia.
It will be recalled that in January 2016, Saudi Arabia cut its diplomatic ties with Iran following attacks on its mission in the country during angry protests against the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. Iranian pilgrims did not join in the last annual pilgrimage held last September.
Several rounds of meetings in 2016, between Tehran and Riyadh failed to reach an on arrangements for the Iranian pilgrims last year.
Ali Qazi-Askar, Iran’s representative for Hajj ceremonies noted that Iran has officially received Saudi Arabia’s invitation to meet and hold bilateral talks on the Hajj.
Talks would focus on accommodation, transportation, safety, medical care, visas and banking, he said, adding that Iran would respond to the invitation over the next few days.
Iran accused Saudi officials of creating obstacles for the Iranian government to send pilgrims to the ceremonies.
Also, Saudi authorities said that the Islamic republic was politicizing the issues related to the religious rituals.
Iranians were among other pilgrims who died in stampede in 2015 Hajj.