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Iranian, Saudi FMs discuss Gaza war, stress need for halt of Israel’s aggression

Iran’s top diplomat has held talks with his Saudi counterpart on the Gaza war and its spread to the region, with the two sides stressing the need for an end to Israeli atrocities.

A statement by the Iranian Foreign Ministry said Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Faisal bin Farhan voiced concern over the continuation of the regime’s atrocities against the oppressed Palestinian people and discussed the necessity for an end to the war and removal of the blockade on Gaza and the return of calm to the wider region.

The two ministers also discussed the situation in the Red Sea, which has been a scene of Yemeni military’s attacks on Israel-linked ships and also US-UK strikes on the Arab country.

The two sides also talked about the course of bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

“The two sides expressed satisfaction about [the level of] bilateral ties and stressed the development and deepening of the two countries’ cooperation in fields of interest,” the statement read.

Resumption of Umrah pilgrimage discussed

Amir-Abdollahian raised the issue of obstacles in the way of Iranians seeking to perform the Umrah pilgrimage and stressed the need for acceleration of efforts to pave the way for Iranians to visit Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah rituals after an eight-year break.

He also invited his counterpart to travel to Tehran.

Iran stopped sending Umrah pilgrims to Saudi Arabia after two Iranian teenage boys were harassed in an airport in the Saudi city of Jeddah in March 2015.

That came nearly a year before the two countries cut their diplomatic relations over incidents affecting Saudi missions in two Iranian cities of Tehran and Mashhad.

Iran and Saudi Arabia resumed relations under a China-brokered normalization agreement signed in March.

Iran initially announced in December that the first Umrah pilgrims would travel on December 19 following an agreement between Tehran and Riyadh to allow the pilgrimage to take place.

However, this flight and subsequent ones were canceled due to Riyadh failing to provide “necessary final permits” for the entry of Iranian planes into Saudi airports, according to Iranian officials.

Iran has cited technical problems as the reason preventing Iranian Muslims from making the Umrah pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Umrah, known as the lesser pilgrimage, can be undertaken at any time of the year and is not deemed compulsory in Islam.

 

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