Ahmadinejad to Leave for Mecca Monday

A02913781.jpgTEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to leave Tehran for Mecca, Saudi Arabia on a hajj pilgrimage on Monday.

The visit by Ahmadinejad, which will take place at the invitation of Saudi King Abdullah, is another first for the Islamic republic’s chief executive.

Ahmadinejad had told a news conference on Tuesday that he would perform the Muslim pilgrimage this year, if he was invited to Saudi Arabia by King Abdullah.

His media advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who is already in Saudi Arabia, confirmed that the president had been invited to the annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, located in western Saudi Arabia.

“It is the first time in the history of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia that the king of this country invites a president of the Islamic republic to make the pilgrimage to Mecca,” he said.

“As a result, the visit of Ahmadinejad is considered to be an important event in the relations between the two countries,” he added.

Saudi Arabia has announced that the high point of the hajj when pilgrims converge on Mount Arafat near Mecca would take place on December 18, and Eid al-Adha marking the end of the pilgrimage would be celebrated the next day.

Ahmadinejad’s pilgrimage would be of much significance for the two sides. It would be his third visit to the kingdom since taking office.

Ahmadinejad also became the first president of the Islamic republic to attend the end-of-year annual summit of Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) that was held in Qatar earlier in December.

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