December 7, 2023

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran on Friday issued a public statement saying it is seeking the release of an Iranian national held by Saudi Arabia from this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, which ended a month ago.

Iran’s foreign ministry said the country’s top diplomat Hossein Amirabdollahian made the call during a telephone conversation with his Iraqi counterpart. Iraq has served as a mediator and facilitator of talks between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. The statement does not mention the details of the arrested person.

There was no immediate acknowledgment of the detention by Saudi Arabia.

Iraq has played a key role in facilitating talks between the regional rivals, including hosting several rounds of direct talks between security officials from both countries.

Iran, the world’s largest Shiite Muslim country, and Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties in 2016 after Saudi Arabia executed prominent Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Angry Iranians protesting the execution stormed two Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran. The Saudi embassy and consulate have remained closed ever since.

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