Iran Cancels Hajj Due to Saudi Arabia ‘Obstacles’

Iran Cancels Hajj Due to Saudi Arabia ‘Obstacles’
Sun May 29, 2016 15:50:07

Iran says it will not take part in this year's Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca because of "obstacles" created by Saudi Arabia.

“We were supposed to wait until today, and pursue the case just in case Saudi authorities had addressed our areas of concern. Nevertheless, given the treatment that the Iranian delegation received during the two rounds of talks and the obstacles created by Saudis, it is basically impossible for Iranians to attend the Major Hajj this year,” Ali Jannati told reporters in Tehran on Sunday.

He added that Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization will release a statement on the matter on Monday.

Jannati said the Iranian delegates were very concerned about the safety of Iranian pilgrims after last year's disaster in Mina, where about 4,700 people, including over 460 Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives. The minister said Tehran currently cannot provide Iranian pilgrims with diplomatic support in Saudi Arabia.

“My interpretation is that the Saudi government deliberately prevented Iranian citizens from attending this year's hajj pilgrimage. It was hence necessary to clearly declare our stance,” Jannati stated.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari

On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari censured Riyadh for “wasting the time” for the Iranian pilgrims planning to perform the ritual this year.

“Unless Hajj is observed, Saudi Arabia is to be held accountable,” Ansari said in an interview Iran’s state-run IRIB television network.

He said the Saudi government is now tying Hajj to “political relations.”

Ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been tense since Tehran strongly condemned the kingdom's execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in January.

Riyadh later severed diplomatic relations with Tehran following attacks on two Saudi missions in Iran by angry protesters.

Head of Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Saeed Ohadi returned to Tehran on Friday from the second round of negotiations in Saudi Arabia at the head of a delegation.

S/SH 11

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