DUBAI (Reuters) – Iraq’s influential Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr made a rare visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, where he met the Saudi crown prince and other officials, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.
Iraq lies on the fault line between the Shi’ite Muslim power Iran and the 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 neighbors.
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 Shi’ite leader, commands a large following among the urban poor of Baghdad and the southern cities, including Saraya al-Islam, or Peace Brigades militia.
He met with the powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and discussed issues of common interest, SPA reported.
Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi, editing by Larry King