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Iranians To Take Part In Hajj Despite Tensions With Saudi Arabia

Iran says its citizens will be able to take part in this year's hajj pilgrimage despite continued tensions with regional rival Saudi Arabia.

Iran's semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Ali Qaziaskar, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ai Khamenei, as saying on July 5 that the National Security Council approved last month a decision to allow Iranian citizens to take part in the pilgrimage.

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Ministry said its officials will be deployed to Jeddah, Mecca, and Medina to provide consular services to Iranian pilgrims during this September's hajj.

Iran boycotted the 2016 hajj after a stampede the previous year killed at least 2,426 pilgrims. Iran had the highest death toll, with 464 killed.

The two countries severed diplomatic ties in January 2016 after Iranians stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran in protest against the execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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