Monday, 26 June, 2017

Iran Reaches Agreement with Saudi Arabia on Pilgrimage to Mecca

Sammy Stanley | 19 March, 2017, 00:49

In a statement released on Friday evening, the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said the necessary conditions for the dispatch of more than 85,000 Iranian pilgrims to this year's Hajj have been met.

The Hajj agreement comes amid continuing tensions between the two countries.

Ahmed Al-Rajihi, board chairman of Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), said the king's visit to China opens a new chapter in Saudi-Chinese strategic relations.

The arrangements were completed after a meeting with an Iranian delegation on February 23, Saudi Arabia's official SPA news agency said.

Iranian Muslims skipped the journey to Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and the place where the Quran was first revealed, for the first time in three decades a year ago.

Already strained over a list of differences, relations between the two countries took a nosedive after the 2015 hajj, when a human crush killed more than 2,400 pilgrims, including more than 464 Iranians in Mina.

The world's largest oil exporter has been looking to cement ties with the world's second-largest economy.

Saudi Arabia & China sign trade agreements worth billions of dollarsChina and Saudi Arabia signed agreements potentially worth tens of billions of dollars on Thursday, Beijing said, as President Xi Jinping welcomed Saudi King Salman on a state visit.

In 2017 Iran will send 85,000 people to the worldwide religious event, to take place in the fall, the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said in an announcement published on its website March 18.

Yet, it remains to be seen if the Hajj compromise will create any spillover effects for the two countries which back opposite sides in Syria and Yemen.

Iran's authorities had held several rounds of talks with Saudi officials on the Hajj pilgrimage.

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