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Iranian pilgrims 'to attend Hajj again' after Saudi rift

Iranian pilgrims 'to attend Hajj again' after Saudi rift”

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.

The Saudi side, also, confirmed the news.

Following negotiations with Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Iranian officials have been assured that the country's pilgrims will be able to make a pilgrimage to Mecca with security and dignity, and will be offered appropriate consular and medical services, the statement added.

Past year was the first time in almost three decades Iranian pilgrims did not attend.

Already strained over a list of differences, relations between the two countries took a nosedive after the 2015 hajj, when a human crush killed more than 2,400 pilgrims, including more than 464 Iranians in Mina.

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In 2017 Iran will send 85,000 people to the global religious event, to take place in the fall, the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said in an announcement published on its website March 18.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud is heading back to the kingdom from China after completing his month-long tour of Asia.

The visits to countries that are some of world's biggest importers of Saudi oil aim to promote investment opportunities in the kingdom, including the sale of a stake in national oil company Saudi Aramco.

The agreement comes as a promising development between the two countries as a year ago Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic relations with Iran after rioters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran while protesting Saudi Arabia's execution of Nimr al-Nimr, an outspoken Shiite cleric who had criticized the Saudi royal family.

Iran's authorities had held several rounds of talks with Saudi officials on the Hajj pilgrimage.



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