Saudi in no position to set conditions for Iran pilgrims: MP

A senior Iranian lawmaker says Saudi Arabia is in no position to set conditions for Iranian pilgrims seeking to perform the annual Hajj rituals.  

“It is us who should set conditions for Saudi Arabia because history shows that Saudi Arabia is not capable of ensuring the safety of pilgrims,” Chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said on Friday.

He added that Riyadh lacks the competence to manage the Hajj affairs.

The legislator emphasized that the Saudi regime must provide guarantees that Iranian pilgrims would perform the Hajj ritual in complete safety.

He said Iran will vigorously pursue the rights of Iranian pilgrims, adding, “Passivity towards Saudi Arabia is not acceptable and this country must give necessary guarantees for the safety of our pilgrims.”

Boroujerdi’s comments came a day after Saudi Ministry of Hajj in a statement denied blocking Iranian Hajj pilgrims but said the visits must take place “within the system and guidelines that organize Hajj affairs.”

Iran’s Minister of Culture Ali Jannati said on Thursday that Iranian pilgrims would not be dispatched to Hajj this year because Saudi Arabia is refusing to cooperate on arrangements for Iranians to join the annual rituals.

“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.

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia intensified after the kingdom’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr in January.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties and halted flights to and from Iran on January 3 following attacks on vacant Saudi diplomatic premises in the Iranian capital and the city of Mashhad by angry people protesting Nimr’s execution.

This as more than 2,400 foreign pilgrims, including 464 Iranians, were killed after two large masses of pilgrims converged at a crossroads in Mina, near the holy Saudi city of Mecca, during the symbolic ceremony of the stoning of Satan in Jamarat on September 24, 2015.

The issuing of visas and security arrangements for the Hajj have been two sticking points in the talks pertaining to this year’s rituals.

Saudi Arabia says Iranian pilgrims should travel to a third country to obtain a visa. However, 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.

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