TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described Tehran-Riyadh relations as friendly, saying that his participation in the greatest Muslim congregation, Hajj, promulgated a message of increased solidarity and brotherhood among Islamic countries.
Ahmadinejad made the remarks while addressing a ceremony to celebrate Muslims’ Eid al-Adha in Mena, Saudi Arabia Thursday.
Eid al-Adha, which marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage, literally means the day of sacrifice, when animals, normally sheep but also goats, cows and camels, are sacrificed in remembrance of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son to God.
The Iranian president also said that presence in the Hajj pilgrimage provided an opportunity for Muslim officials to exchange views about the heavy responsibility of Islamic governments and statesmen.
The Iranian president landed in the Saudi Arabian city of Medina for the first stop in the Hajj last Monday.
While Ahmadinejad has visited Saudi Arabia twice as Iran’s president for meetings, he will be Iran’s first leader to take part in the Hajj pilgrimage.
Ahmadinejad is attending the Hajj at the invitation of Saudi King Abdullah – a highly symbolic move displaying solidarity between the two Muslim nations.
His pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, located in western Saudi Arabia, will be Ahmadinejad’s third visit to the kingdom since taking office.
He visited Mecca in December 2005 for an Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit but outside of the Hajj season.
The two countries have tried to give an impression of unity in recent years, vowing to work together to end the political crisis in Lebanon and bring stability to Iraq.
Ahmadinejad also became the first president of the Islamic republic to attend the end-of-year annual summit of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) that was held in Qatar earlier in December.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and several other high-ranking Iranian officials are on the trip with the president.
Muslims are required to perform the Hajj in Saudi Arabia at least once if they are able-bodied and if they can afford it.
According to tradition, the ritual begins in Mecca, the birthplace of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), and is a spiritual journey that cleanses the soul and wipes away sins.