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Iran FM calls for ‘immediate’ release of citizen arrested in Saudi Arabia during Hajj pilgrimage

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Muslim pilgrims pray around the Ka'aba at the Grand Mosque, in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on July 6, 2022, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (Photo by AFP)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has called for the “immediate” release of an Iranian citizen detained in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj pilgrimage.

Amir-Abdollahian made the call in a phone conversation with his Omani counterpart Sayyid Badr Albusaidi on Friday as the two exchanged views on the latest developments in regional issues and Tehran-Muscat relations.

The top Iranian diplomat appreciated the efforts of the Omani and Iraqi foreign ministers in pursuing the case and release of Iranian pilgrim, Khalil Dardmand, and expressed hope for the detainee’s imminent return to his homeland.

Back in August, Amir-Abdollahian demanded the release of the Iranian citizen detained in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj pilgrimage over the phone with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein.

During the conversation, the Iranian foreign minister urged Hussein to follow up on the case of Dardmand and asked him to convey a message for his release, as Iraq has hosted several rounds of talks in Baghdad between representatives from Iran and Saudi Arabia as part of diplomatic rapprochement.

In a meeting in Tehran at that time, Amir-Abdollahian briefed the father of the detained Iranian national on the measures taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since he was arrested by Saudi forces in the holy city of Mecca.

Amir-Abdollahian expressed optimism that Dardmand would be repatriated to Iran with the assistance of Saudi authorities.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, stormed its embassy in Tehran.

The kingdom then pursued a confrontational foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic, especially during the administration of former US president Donald Trump, with whom the Saudi rulers shared close ties.

Saudi Arabia have recently shown willingness through diplomatic channels and third parties to mend fences with Tehran and resume bilateral relations.

The two neighbors also remain deeply divided over a set of regional issues, mainly the Saudi war on Yemen.

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