Iran Urges Dialogue to Resolve Mideast Conflicts

Hossein DehqaniHossein Dehqani

Iran's envoy to the United Nations, Hossein Dehqani, reiterated Iran's stance that regional conflicts should be addressed through dialogue and diplomacy.

In a brief note read out on the sidelines of the annual session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Saturday, Dehqani complained about the way Saudis handled the case of the deadly crush during the hajj pilgrimage last year.

"Saudis' mismanagement and negligence were the main culprit behind the incident that left thousands of pilgrims injured or dead," he was quoted as saying by IRNA.

The stampede happened when two groups of pilgrims on their way to perform the stoning of Satan ritual converged at an intersection in Mina, near Mecca, on September 24, 2015.

Riyadh has put the death toll at 769 while counts of fatalities by countries that repatriated bodies showed thousands of people perished in the crush, over 460 of them Iranians.

"The corpses were left unattended for hours in the sun, which was an act of disrespect. The families of the victims were kept in the dark about the fate of their loved ones for months," he said.

Dehqani complained that the Saudi hajj organizers have neither apologized, nor compensated the victims' families, and have refused to release a report into the disaster or allow an international fact-finding committee to conduct an independent probe.

Tehran and Riyadh have locked horns in disputes on a number of issues, which culminated in the Arab kingdom's decision to cut bilateral diplomatic ties in early January.

The move was prompted by Iranian protestors storming Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad in a show of outrage over the execution of a prominent Shia cleric.

Iranian officials have bluntly criticized Riyadh's destabilizing role in the region for funding terrorists and also its ineptitude in running the hajj, by far the largest and most important Muslim ritual.

Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei highlighted the poor performance of Saudis and suggested earlier this month that Muslim countries think about ending Riyadh's control over the annual pilgrimage.

"Because of [the Saudi] rulers' oppressive behavior toward God's guests, the world of Islam must fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places [referring to the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's (PBUH) Mosque in Medina] and the issue of hajj," he said.