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TEHRAN, Iran – An Iranian government minister says Iranian pilgrims will not be traveling to Saudi Arabia this year for the annual hajj pilgrimage because security conditions in the Sunni kingdom are inadequate.
Ali Jannati, the country's minister of culture and Islamic guidance, is quoted by the official IRNA news agency on Thursday as saying that Tehran has been trying to "resolve the issue" with Riyadh for four months without progress and "now we've lost time."
The kingdom severed ties with Tehran after its diplomatic missions were attacked and ransacked in Iran after the Saudis executed a top Shiite cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on terror charges.
Iran says at least 464 Iranian pilgrims were killed in the stampede at the hajj last September and blames Saudi "incompetence" for the deaths.