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Iranian leader attends Hajj ritual

  • Story Highlights
  • Iran's president arrives in Medina, Saudi Arabia, for the first stop in the Hajj
  • He will be Iran's first leader to take part in the annual Muslim pilgrimage
  • It begins in Mecca, the birthplace of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed
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TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad landed in the Saudi Arabian city of Medina for the first stop in the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reads verses from the Quran before leaving for Medina.

President Ahmadinejad said in a news conference last Tuesday that he had been invited by Saudi King Abdullah to attend the Hajj.

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, according to Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's state news agency.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and several other high-ranking Iranian officials are on the trip with the president, IRNA said.

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, and is a spiritual journey that cleanses the soul and wipes away sins. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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