Ahmadinejad takes part in the Hajj

The visit is seen as a warming of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

    Ahmadinejad is the first Iranian leader to take part in the Hajj [AFP]
    He visited Mecca in December 2005 for an Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit but outside of the hajj season.

    It is not clear whether he performed the pilgrimage privately before becoming president.

    Rocky relations 

    Relations have  been rocky between Shia majority Iran and Sunni majority Saudi Arabia, which also has a substantial Shia community in its oil-rich eastern province.

    Relations reached an all-time low in July 1987 when 402 people were killed in clashes between Iranians and Saudi security forces during the Hajj.

    However, Ahmadinejad's appearance is seen as a sign of warming relations between the two countries.

    Ahead of this year's Hajj, Iran urged Saudi Arabia to crack down on religious extremism following reports of anti-Shia sermons and pamphlets in the kingdom.

    Last month, Ahmadinejad publicly rebuked King Abdullah for Saudi Arabia's participation in a meeting in the US city of Annapolis aimed at finding peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

    But he also became the first president of Iran to attend the end-of-year annual summit of Gulf Arab leaders that was held in Qatar earlier this month.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    More than 300 people died in Somalia but some are asking why there was less news coverage and sympathy on social media.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Japan's third-largest steelmaker has admitted it faked data on parts used in cars, planes and trains.