An Iranian delegation has traveled to Saudi Arabia for negotiations on this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, an official said.
Caretaker of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Hamid Mohammadi, who is heading the delegation, told the Tasnim News Agency that the negotiations with Saudi officials will begin on Thursday evening.
It is still early to judge the results of the talks, he added.
The Saudi negotiators will be led by the kingdom’s minister of Hajj and Umrah, he said.
The Iranian official went on to say that in the talks, Iran will reiterate its demands, which include respect for the Iranian pilgrims and procedures to ensure their safety during the Hajj season.
More than 1.8 million faithful took part in the 2016 Hajj, but Iranians stayed at home after tensions between Riyadh and Tehran boiled over following a deadly stampede during the 2015 pilgrimage.
On September 2, 2015, thousands of people lost their lives in a deadly crush after Saudi authorities blocked a road in Mina during a ritual, forcing large crowds of pilgrims to collide.
The crush was the deadliest incident in the history of the pilgrimage. According to an Associated Press count based on official statements from the 36 countries that lost citizens in the disaster, more than 2,400 pilgrims were killed in the incident.
Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed in the incident, but officials at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 4,700 people, including over 460 Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives.