RELIGION

Official: Iran ready to discuss 2017 hajj with Saudi Arabia

FILE -- In this Sept. 11, 2016 file photo, hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira Mosque in Arafat, during the annual hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The official IRNA news agency, late on Monday, Jan 9, 2017, quoted Ali Qaziaskar, a representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying Iranian authorities are ready to "participate in bilateral talks" with Saudi Arabia about the 2017 hajj pilgrimage. Iran boycotted the 2016 hajj after a stampede and crush of pilgrims during the previous year's pilgrimage killed at least 2,426 people, according to an Associated Press count. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

FILE -- In this Sept. 11, 2016 file photo, hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira Mosque in Arafat, during the annual hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The official IRNA news agency, late on Monday, Jan 9, 2017, quoted Ali Qaziaskar, a representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying Iranian authorities are ready to "participate in bilateral talks" with Saudi Arabia about the 2017 hajj pilgrimage. Iran boycotted the 2016 hajj after a stampede and crush of pilgrims during the previous year's pilgrimage killed at least 2,426 people, according to an Associated Press count. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)  (The Associated Press)

A senior Tehran official says Iranian authorities are ready to "participate in bilateral talks" with Saudi Arabia about the 2017 hajj pilgrimage.

The official IRNA news agency late on Monday quoted Ali Qaziaskar, a representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying that Iran like other Islamic countries received an invitation letter from Riyadh to discuss the next pilgrimage.

Iran boycotted the 2016 hajj after a stampede and crush of pilgrims during the previous year's pilgrimage killed at least 2,426 people, according to an Associated Press count. Iran had the highest death toll of any country, with 464 killed.

A few months later, Riyadh cut diplomatic relations with Tehran after angry Iranians attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the kingdom's execution of a Saudi Shiite cleric.