After days of contentious exchanges between Iranian and Saudi authorities over the tragic incident in Mena that led to the death of thousands of Muslim pilgrims, the Saudi King has reportedly sent a message of condolence to the Iranian government.
The Saudi daily Al-Riyadh wrote on Thursday October 1 that the Saudi King’s message of condolence to the Iranian government and the families of deceased pilgrims was delivered to Iranian Health Minister Hassan Hashemi by his Saudi counterpart in Riyadh.
Hashemi arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday September 29 as the head of an Iranian delegation to assess the situation of Iranian pilgrims.
Reports indicate that an agreement has been reached to facilitate the speedy transfer of Iranian victims back to their country as soon as possible.
Iran’s Pilgrimage Organization reports that of the 4,700 fatalities in the Mena accident, 464 were Iranians.
On Thursday September 24, pilgrims were trampled to death on the roads between thousands of tents set up in the Mena desert for pilgrimage rituals.
Iranian authorities have been expressing serious concerns regarding the Saudi management of the annual Haj ceremony, which draws millions of Muslims to Saudi Arabia each year. Some Iranian officials have even hinted at the possibility that a conspiracy between Saudi Arabia and Israel against Iran triggered the incident.
On Wednesday September 30, Iran’s Supreme Leader said if Iran is forced to retaliate, its reaction will be “hard and harsh”.
Saudi authorities had so far been blaming the incident on the pilgrims themselves for failing to act in an orderly fashion.