That trip could be used by Iran and Saudi Arabia as an opportunity to improve their mutual relations, which have been damaged by disagreements over a host of other issues, including the ongoing Syrian crisis.
“Iran and Saudi Arabia are two important countries and major regional players,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and Middle East Affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, told Al-Alam news channel on Sunday.
“[Iran and Saudi Arabia’s] interactions, cooperation and sharing of viewpoints can contribute to resolving a substantial part of the disputes in the region, and even in the Islamic world,” Amir Abdollahian said.
Addressing a gathering of Iranian Hajj officials in Tehran on September 19, President Rouhani hailed Saudi Arabia as a close friend of the Islamic Republic and expressed both nations’ willingness to smooth over “minor tensions” that have strained bilateral relations.
According to Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency, Rouhani also added that Tehran and Riyadh have many common interests and enjoy regional commonalities. He also emphasized the need for upgrading the level of interactions between the two Muslim countries.
Hajj, the largest mass pilgrimage in the world, is considered one of the five pillars of Islam, and every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it is obliged to perform the pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime.
The holy pilgrimage is viewed as a demonstration of Muslim unity and their submission to Allah.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat before Iran’s recent presidential elections, Hassan Rouhani said that if elected, “improving and expanding relations with neighbouring countries at all levels is a major priority” of his future administration.
“I plan to change the recently exacerbated [and] unfortunate rivalry between the two countries into mutual respect and mutually beneficial arrangements and cooperation to enhance security and restore stability in the region,” he added.