Iran demands the release of its citizens held in Saudi Arabia

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran issued a public statement Friday that it is seeking to release an Iranian national who has been held by Saudi Arabia since the Hajj pilgrimage, which ended a month ago this year.

Iran’s foreign ministry said the call was made during a phone conversation with Iraqi diplomats by the country’s top diplomat, Hussein Amirabdullahian. Iraq has been a mediator and facilitator of negotiations between rival Saudi Arabia and Iran. The statement did not identify the detainees.

Saudi Arabia did not immediately acknowledge the detention.

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

Iran, the world’s largest Shiite Muslim country, severed diplomatic ties with Sunni power Saudi Arabia after it executed prominent Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia in 2016. Angry Iranians protesting the execution stormed two Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran. The Saudi embassy and consulate have been closed since then.

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