In a historic meeting, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has held talks with Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf on the final day of his landmark visit to the neighboring Arab state.
Rouhani sat down with Ayatollah Sistani at his residence on Wednesday after visiting the shrine of Imam Ali (PBUH) – the first Imam of Shia Muslims.
Rouhani is the first Iranian president ever to have met with Ayatollah Sistani.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Ambassador to Baghdad Iraj Masjedi were also present at the meeting.
So far, there have been no reports about what has been discussed at the meeting. Journalists and photographers are rarely let into Ayatollah Sistani’s meetings.
Grand Ayatollah Sistani is known as the spiritual leader of Iraqi Shia Muslims and one of the most senior clerics in Shia Islam.
His fatwas have significantly contributed to shaping Iraq’s political structure.
In June 2014 – when the Daesh group unleashed its campaign of terror and destruction in Iraq – Grand Ayatollah Sistani called on his followers to rush to the national army’s help in the fight against the terrorist outfit.
The fatwa helped bring together Shia fighters, Sunni tribesmen as well as Christian and Izadi volunteers under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), commonly known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, to reverse Daesh’s gains and ultimately end the terror group’s territorial rule in Iraq in late 2017.
Later on Wednesday, the Iranian president is scheduled to meet with other senior officials and clerics in Najaf.Rouhani visited the shrines of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam, and his half-brother Abbas ibn Ali, in the holy city of Karbala on Tuesday.
Heading a high-ranking delegation, Rouhani began his official Iraq visit on Monday, which featured several meetings and the signing of memorandums of understanding for the expansion of bilateral ties in various fields.
In a joint statement, the two neighboring states hailed Rouhani’s Iraq visit as a “turning point” in efforts to strengthen “strategic” cooperation based on non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran met with Ayatollah Bashir Najafi in Najaf City.
Ayatollah Bashir al-Najafi welcomed the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani and his accompanying delegation in his central office in Najaf.
He stressed during his meeting on the importance of the strength of Iraq and Iran. The strength and stability of Iraq and Iran are among the most important elements of the region’s strength and stability. His Eminence said (may Allah prolong his life): “There is no stability in the region without Iraq’s stability and strength.”
Ayatollah Bashir al-Najafi welcomed the strengthening of the relations of the Islamic countries with Iraq, especially the Iraqi-Iranian relations because of their importance and interest to our peoples. He said: “Iraqi-Iranian relations must be upgraded on more than one level and the service of the two neighboring peoples.” Indicating the policy of common interests and respect for the sovereignty of countries.
He also offered many directives calling for the dignity and honor of the Islamic Nation after what the nation has gone through by the arrogant policies and the terrorism of the world.
For his part, President Rouhani thanked Ayatollah Najafi for his welcoming and his directives and guidance.