Iran Reaches Agreement with Saudi Arabia on Pilgrimage to Mecca

Pilgrims from Iran will travel to Saudi Arabia for the Haj this year after the missing last pilgrimage amid tensions between the regional rivals. "Islamic Culture and Orientation Minister Reza Salehi-Amiri stated weeks ago that negotiations in Jeddah and Riyadh were in a good atmosphere, but pointed out that Riyadh "should accept Tehran's conditions.' Among the demands of the Islamic Republic were that the Arab kingdom paid the 'blood money" (compensation) to relatives of 461 Iranians killed in a stampede on the Jamarat bridge during the 'Deposition of the Devil" in Hajj in 2015, Near the city of Mina.

Another report confirms a one-day Saudi Chinese Investment Forum ended in an upbeat mood with 45 agreements signed between China and Saudi Arabia.

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.

"The ministry of hajj and the Iranian organization have completed all the necessary measures to ensure Iranian pilgrims perform hajj 1438 according to the procedures followed by all Muslim countries", Saudi Arabia's official SPA news agency quoted the Saudi Hajj ministry as saying on Friday.

For the first time in almost three decades, Iran's pilgrims - which would have numbered about 60,000 - did not attend the Hajj in 2016 after the two countries failed to agree on security and logistics.

China and Saudi Arabia will increase their cooperation in the oil sector, including in Saudi oil exports to China, the two countries said in a joint communique issued today at the end of Saudi Arabian King Salman's visit to Beijing. Saudi Arabia put the death toll at 769, whereas independent counts by countries repatriating bodies suggest as many as 2,426 people may have died.

Tehran blamed Riyadh for mismanaging the holy sites and called on the world's Muslims to reconsider Saudi control of them considering the country's "incompetence".

In January previous year, relations were severed again after Iranian demonstrators torched Saudi Arabia's embassy and a consulate following Saudi Arabia's execution of a Shia figure along with 47 "terrorists". Saudi Arabia has sought to increase its oil sales to China, also the world's second-largest oil market, after losing some of its market share to Russian Federation in 2016.

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