For the second time, the Iranian delegation in charge of discussing Hajj arrangements for Iranian citizens with officials at the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah left the city of Jeddah yesterday without signing the protocol for the arrangements.
The protocol was not signed despite the delegation changing their minds about their refusal to sign it the first time round and arriving in Jeddah where a preliminary agreement was signed on Wednesday. However, the delegation later returned and refused to sign the final agreement the day after.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah yesterday said that continuous meetings that lasted several hours were held on Wednesday and Thursday. The ministry provided solutions to all the points raised by Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organisation which include issuing visas electronically within Iran, the transportation of Iranian pilgrims being shared equally between Saudi and Iranian carriers and agreeing to the Iranian delegation’s request for diplomatic representation via the Swiss embassy to take care of the interests of their pilgrims. Despite this, the delegation “expressed its desire to leave without signing the protocol concerning the arrangements for their pilgrims, and left the city of Jeddah at dawn yesterday”.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah also said that “By failing to sign the protocol that would conclude the Hajj arrangements, the Iranian mission is responsible in front of God first and then its people for the inability of its citizens to perform the pilgrimage this year”. It also stressed that Saudi Arabia “categorically rejects the politicisation of the Hajj pilgrimage” and “is always ready to cooperate in order to serve the pilgrims and facilitate their arrival”.
The Saudi Council of Ministers said in a previous session that “on the basis of the kingdom’s duties and its responsibility to serve the guests of the House of God, it welcomes and is honoured to serve pilgrims and visitors of all nationalities and does not prevent any Muslim from visiting the holy land”. The Council also stressed that Saudi Arabia refuses to politicise the Hajj.