0149 GMT February 18, 2020
“Good behavior toward the Iranian pilgrims is one of Saudi Arabia’s messages in line with more interaction with Iran,” Hojjatoleslam Mojtaba Zonnoor told Tasnim News Agency.
“Up to this day, they (Saudis) have behaved hospitably and if they continue this path, there would be a thaw of relations with Saudi Arabia as we are witnessing it with the existing signs,” the lawmaker added.
According to an agreement reached between Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization and the kingdom’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in 2018, about 86,500 Iranian pilgrims went on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in the 2019 Hajj season.
The two sides signed an agreement at the conclusion of the meetings, aimed at making better arrangements for Iranian pilgrims and preventing the problems they faced in previous years.
In 2016, more than 1.8 million pilgrims attended Hajj, but Iranians stayed at home after tensions between Riyadh and Tehran boiled over following a deadly crush of people during the 2015 pilgrimage.
More than 460 Iranians were among the thousands of pilgrims who died on September 24, 2015 in a crush in Mina, near Mecca, during the Hajj pilgrimage.
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia ran high in January, 2016, following Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and a subsequent demonstration outside the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, which resulted in the Arab country’s decision to sever its ties with Iran.
Iranian officials strongly denounced the embassy incidents. Over 150 people involved in the incidents were also arrested.
The Arabic newspaper Rai al-Youm has written recently that several sources speak of a change in the Saudis’ position toward Iran, and accordingly, Riyadh appears to be seeking to begin serious talks with Tehran on maritime security and deployment in the Persian Gulf region.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry also has described a call from Riyadh for talks with Tehran as a “positive signal”, saying the Islamic Republic welcomes any initiative for unconditional resolution of regional issues.