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Saudi Arabia denies visa for Iran's top Hajj envoy 

Hojjat Al-Islam Adul Fatah Navab [Wikipedia]
Hojjat Al-Islam Abdul Fattah Navab [Wikipedia]

Saudi Arabia has refused to issue a visa for the Iranian official in charge of overseeing the Hajj procedures for Iranian pilgrims.

The head of Iran's Hajj delegation, Hojjat Al-Islam Abdul Fattah Navab, a representative of Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei was refused the visa on the pretext that he didn't meet the age requirement, according to Al-Alam, Iran's Arabic language news network.

Saudi authorities set new conditions for this year's pilgrimage – the first one open to non-Saudi citizens and residents since the pandemic two years ago – including that the pilgrims must be 65 years old or under, however heads of Hajj delegations were thought to be exempt from this restriction, reported Fars News Agency.

On Monday, the processing of 39,635 Iranian pilgrims to the Holy Land was completed, however Nawab, who is over 65 years old by several months, will be unable to participate in the Hajj and instead delegated his role to another official, Hojjat Al-Islam Rukn Al-Dini.

READ: Muslim pilgrims flock to Makkah for first post-pandemic Hajj

Sadeq Hosseini, the head of Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organisation, who arrived in Saudi Arabia earlier last month, informed the foreign ministry that the Iranian pilgrims are doing well and emphasised that none of the pilgrims have faced any problems so far. Last month ahead of the Hajj, Ayatollah Khamenei called on the Saudi authorities to ensure the security of all pilgrims including Iranians.

Iran and Saudi Arabia suspended mutual relations in 2016 after the execution of outspoken Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr. Last year, they started to hold talks to end their differences. The last of five rounds of discussions, hosted by Iraq, was held in April after talks were suspended for a month following the Saudi government's execution of 81 people, 41 of whom were Shia Muslims.

Earlier this month, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein announced that Baghdad was keen on restarting negotiations between Tehran and Riyadh, expressing hopes that the talks will lead to "positive developments" between the two countries.

READ: Saudi Arabia imposes $2,665 fine on Hajj pilgrims without a permit

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