Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on rare visit to Saudi Arabia | world news | Hindustan Times
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Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on rare visit to Saudi Arabia

world Updated: Jul 31, 2017 19:44 IST
In this July 30, 2017 photo released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (left) meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

In this July 30, 2017 photo released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (left) meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP)

Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr made a rare visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, where he met the Saudi crown prince and other officials, state news agency SPA reported.

Iraq lies on the faultline between Shia Muslim power Iran and Sunni-ruled countries that are its regional arch-rivals, chief among them Saudi Arabia.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia announced last month they were setting up a coordination council to upgrade strategic ties as part of an attempt to heal troubled relations between the Arab neighbours.

Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad in 2015 following a 25-year break, and in February, Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir made a rare visit to Baghdad.

Sadr, an anti-American Shia leader, commands a large following among the urban poor of Baghdad and the southern cities, including Saraya al-Salam, or Peace Brigades militia.

He met the powerful Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and discussed issues of common interest, SPA reported.