By Mona Alami
Foreign minister urges parties to wait for investigation to conclude
Saudi Arabia has hit back at Iranian criticism of its handling of the Haj stampede, asking the rival state to wait for the outcome of an investigation into the tragedy.
Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir said the Iranians “should know better than to play politics with a tragedy that has befallen people who were performing their most sacred religious duty”, according to a report in AFP.
Speaking alongside US Secretary of State John Kerry at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York on Sunday, Al Jubeir added: “We will reveal the facts when they emerge. And we will not hold anything back.
“I would hope Iranian leaders would be more sensible and thoughtful with regards to those who perished in this tragedy and wait until we see the results of the investigation.”
He insisted that the kingdom has a long history of devoting “tremendous resources” to ensure a successful pilgrimage, and added: “We will make sure that we will learn from this and we will make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
On Sunday it was reported that pilgrims’ breached grouping regulations, causing the crush that killed at least 717 people in Makkah last week and injured over 800 others.
An unnamed Iranian official said a group of 300 Iranian Haj pilgrims began moving from the opposite direction straight to Jamarat, instead of first going to their camps as is generally practiced by the Haj pilgrims.