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Saudi-Iran tension still high despite deal to repatriate bodies of dead Haj pilgrims

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By Euronews
Saudi-Iran tension still high despite deal to repatriate bodies of dead Haj pilgrims

<p>Just hours after strong words from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, a deal has been reached to repatriate the bodies of his compatriots killed in the Haj pilgrimage stampede near Mecca.</p> <p>“Saudi Arabia failed to help the injured and are causing trouble in transfer of the bodies to Iran … the slightest disrespect to Iranians will be met with a harsh reaction from us,” Khamenei told graduates of the Iranian Army’s military academies in the city of Noshahr on Wednesday. </p> <p>He had already called on the kingdom to apologise.</p> <p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="fr"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Iran leader demands Saudi Arabia apologize for haj deaths <a href="http://t.co/FuwsnnfG3H">http://t.co/FuwsnnfG3H</a></p>— Reuters Iran (@ReutersIran) <a href="https://twitter.com/ReutersIran/status/648028058264338432">27 Septembre 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>“We have shown self-restraint so far, but the Saudis should know Iran is more powerful and has more capabilities and they cannot compete with us in any front,” he added.</p> <p>Feelings are running high in Iran which lost 464 nationals according to new Saudi figures..</p> <p>But even as a repatriation deal was struck between the two regional rivals – also at loggerheads over crises including the conflict in Yemen – tension remained acute.</p> <p>While those injured in the stampede were flown back to Iran – the nation hardest hit by last week’s disaster – some there claimed that up to 4,700 pilgrims in total may have died rather than the 769 figure for overall deaths given by Saudi authorities.</p> <p>The crush – the deadliest to befall the annual rite in Saudi Arabia for a quarter of a century – happened as two large groups of pilgrims converged at a crossroads outside Mecca on their way to perform the “stoning of the devil” nearby.</p> <p>Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir hit back at several days of Iranian criticism on Tuesday, telling Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV that the Islamic Republic was meddling.</p> <p>“I think what Iran has said contradicts the principle of sovereignty and lack of interference in others’ affairs,” he said.</p> <p>Saudi Arabia says it is investigating last Thursday’s disaster and will soon publish its findings.</p>