TEHRAN – Iran has received an official invitation from Saudi Arabia to discuss the return of Iranian pilgrims to Mecca after it was suspended last year following the deadly stampede in 2015.
Ali Qazi-Askar, representative for pilgrimage affairs of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, said on Tuesday that the invitation is for bilateral talks.
These talks will focus on preparations such as accommodation, transport, security, medical care and visas, he added.
Iranian authorities will respond to this invitation in the coming days.
The confirmation comes after several Saudi media published that Riyadh had sent the invitation to Tehran, which was denied at first.
Iran’s decision that its nationals would not carry out Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage) in 2016 was in response to the stampede that occurred the previous year, which killed 465 Iranians.
In that accident a total of 770 pilgrims died, according to data from Saudi Arabia, although the count of the victims of each country raises that number to more than 1,700.
Iran blamed Saudi Arabia for the tragedy and accused the country of not being capable of guaranteeing the security of pilgrimage rituals, which further highlighted the already tense relations between the two countries.