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Official: Iran ready to discuss 2017 haj with Saudi Arabia


    Associated Press

Tehran | Tue, January 10, 2017 | 06:59 pm
Official: Iran ready to discuss 2017 haj with Saudi Arabia Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira Mosque in Arafat, during the annual haj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP/Nariman El-Mofty)

A senior Tehran official says Iranian authorities are ready to "participate in bilateral talks" with Saudi Arabia about the 2017 hajj pilgrimage.

The official IRNA news agency late on Monday quoted Ali Qaziaskar, a representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying that Iran like other Islamic countries received an invitation letter from Riyadh to discuss the next pilgrimage.

Iran boycotted the 2016 haj after a stampede and crush of pilgrims during the previous year's pilgrimage killed at least 2,426 people, according to an Associated Press count. Iran had the highest death toll of any country, with 464 killed.

A few months later, Riyadh cut diplomatic relations with Tehran after angry Iranians attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the kingdom's execution of a Saudi Shiite cleric.