The Saudi Arabian embassy in Ankara denied claims that Saudi authorities were preventing Iranian nationals from taking part in this year’s annual Hajj pilgrimage to the cities of Mecca and Medina.
The embassy declared in a statement Monday: “Saudi Arabia does not consider these issues — such as the easing of procedures for those wanting to make the pilgrimage and worship in the Holy Land and providing for their comfort and security —as political.”
The kingdom cut its diplomatic ties with Iran in January after its missions in Tehran and Mashhad were reportedly attacked by Iranian protesters following the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr by the Saudi authorities early this year.
According to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, the Saudi embassy went on to note that its officials had recently met with a delegation from the Iranian Authority for Hajj Affairs, where the latter had refused to sign a memorandum of understanding on procedures for this year’s pilgrimage.
Iran’s Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Ali Jannati, however, said Iranians will not make the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia this year after talks failed to break an impasse. He also reportedly blamed the Saudis for playing a "destructive" role in negotiations.
Even though the Saudi statement said that it bore "no enmity" toward any particular country and would carry out its responsibility to provide for pilgrims’ security and comfort, it also mentioned that it would not allow anyone to harm Saudi Arabia's security and stability.
This year’s Hajj pilgrimage is set to take place in September.