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Saudi says Iranian pilgrims welcome despite rift

February 4, 2016
Saudi says Iranian pilgrims welcome despite rift

RIYADH: Iranian pilgrims are still welcome to visit Islam’s holiest sites in Saudi Arabia despite increased tensions between the two countries, Riyadh’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

“Any Muslim is welcome in Makkah and Medina… and this includes the Iranian pilgrims,” Adel al-Jubeir told reporters.

He said the political crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran “has nothing to do at all” with the annual Hajj pilgrimage or the lesser pilgrimage known as Umrah.

The rites draw millions of faithful from around the world each year.

In January, protesters burned Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran and a consulate in Iran’s second city of Mashhad to protest the Saudi execution of a religious leader.

Saudi Arabia and some of its allies cut diplomatic ties with Iran as a result.

At a joint news conference Thursday with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Jubeir repeated accusations that Iran’s “hostile policies” in the region for more than three decades led to the current situation. –AFP


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