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Sistani Receives Rouhani, Stresses Respect For States’ Sovereignty

Sistani Receives Rouhani, Stresses Respect For States’ Sovereignty

Thursday, 14 March, 2019 - 07:30
Iraq’s Senior Shiite Cleric Ali Sistani, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Najaf on Wednesday. (Ali Sistani’s media office/AFP/Getty Images)
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa
Iraq’s Shiite cleric Ali Sistani underlined the importance of respecting the sovereignty of states, during his meeting on Wednesday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

A statement by Sistani’s office said Iraq’s top Shiite cleric welcomed “any move to strengthen Iraq’s relations with its neighbors based on respect for state sovereignty and non-interference in its internal affairs.”

Sistani emphasized, in light of the fragile situation in the region, “the need for international and regional policies to be balanced and moderate in order to spare people more tragedies and damage.”

He pointed out that the most major challenges facing Iraq at this stage were fighting corruption, restricting the use of weapons to state and security services, as well as improving public services.”

Sistani’s office statement highlighted “the fateful war waged by the Iraqi people to defeat ISIS,” and “the great sacrifices made by the heroic Iraqis to achieve victory over this terrorist organization and to eliminate its danger from the entire region.”

The meeting was held on the third day of Rouhani’s visit to Baghdad.

Shiite cleric Haidar al-Gharabi told Asharq Al-Awsat that talks between Sistani and the Iranian president gave many “indications of the current stage in Iraq, represented by a multitude of agendas, especially foreign ones.”

“Iran is an important international player in the region and Iraq; therefore, the understanding with the highest religious authority in Najaf comes in this context, especially as we believe that Iran has positive attitudes towards Iraq,” Gharabi said.

Sistani had closed his doors since late 2015 to Iraqi politicians, including presidents, ministers, MPs and bloc leaders. He also refused to receive the French foreign minister who visited Iraq in January.

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