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Iranian citizen detained in Saudi Arabia released after Iraq, Oman mediation

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)
The file photo shows Muslim pilgrims praying around the Ka'aba at the Grand Mosque, in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has been informed of the release of an Iranian citizen who was detained in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj pilgrimage in July following Iraq's and Oman's mediation efforts.

The Foreign Ministry’s website said on Sunday that Amir-Abdollahian had been contacted by his Iraqi and Omani counterparts about the release of Iranian pilgrim, Khalil Dardmand.

“Fuad Hussein and Sayyid Badr Albusaidi separately contacted Amir-Abdollahian to announce the news of the release of Iranian Hajj pilgrim, who was detained in Saudi Arabia,” the website wrote.

Amir-Abdollahian also appreciated the efforts of Hussein and Albusaidi in pursuing the case and release of Dardmand, and expressed hope for the detainee’s imminent return to his homeland.

A day earlier, the top Iranian diplomat had called for the “immediate” release of the detained pilgrim in a phone conversation with the Omani foreign minister as the two exchanged views on the latest developments in regional issues and Tehran-Muscat relations.

During a conversation in August, the Iranian foreign minister urged his Iraqi counterpart to follow up on the case of Dardmand and asked him to convey a message to Riyadh 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.

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 has recently shown a 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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