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Tehran, Riyadh Fail To Agree On Hajj Arrangements For Iranians

Tehran will not send Iranians on this year's Hajj pilgrimage unless their safety is ensured, after a stampede last year killed hundreds.

Saudi Arabia and Iran failed to reach a deal on arrangements for Iranians to attend this year's Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, with officials from both countries blaming the other for the impasse.

Saudi officials accused Iran of walking out of talks early on May 27, despite their having offered "solutions" to Iranian demands.

They said agreement was reached in some areas, such as using electronic visas which could be printed out by Iranian pilgrims, as Saudi diplomatic missions remain shut in Iran.

The Iranian government "will be responsible in front of Allah Almighty and its people for inability of the Iranian citizens to perform Hajj for this year" the Saudi pilgrimage office said, adding that the kingdom "has stressed its categorical rejection to politicize Hajj rituals."

Saeed Ohadi, head of Iran's pilgrimage office, said the "lack of a unified decision" by Saudi officials is delaying an agreement.

Iranian officials have vowed not to send pilgrims to Saudi Arabia unless their safety is ensured.

Last year, hundreds of pilgrims were killed during a stampede outside of Mecca that Tehran has blamed on Saudi mismanagement. Iran said at least 460 Iranians were killed in the incident.

Based on reporting by and AFP