World

JEDDAH – Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr made a rare visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, where he met the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other officials, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.


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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.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) meets Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr (2nd right) and his delegation in Jeddah.

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.