Iran-Saudi hajj talks halted because of visa hurdle

06:59 PM | 19 Apr, 2016
Iran-Saudi hajj talks halted because of visa hurdle
TEHRAN (Web Desk) - Talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia on this year’s hajj pilgrimage have halted because of a disagreement on how visas can be processed in the absence of formal diplomatic relations.

An Iranian delegation last week travelled to Saudi Arabia, which cut ties in January, for discussions on the pilgrimage to the Muslim holy places in the kingdom.

Head of the Iranian Hajj Organisation Ohadi said on state television late Monday that four days of negotiations had achieved progress on security issues and travel to the kingdom.

But the lack of a functioning Saudi embassy in Tehran — both it and the kingdom’s mission in Iran’s second city Mashhad are closed — means there are currently no visas being issued to Iranians.

“The problem of visa issuance has not been solved yet,” said Ohadi. “Saudi Arabia has not yet offered a clear solution.”

In the absence of any Iranian representation, Switzerland looks after mainly Shiite Iran’s interests in the Sunni-dominated kingdom.

Iran wants visas to be issued inside the Islamic republic.

Meanwhile, Iran's minister of culture and Islamic guidance says Saudi Arabia is creating problems for the dispatch of Iranian pilgrims to this year’s Hajj rituals.