NewsSpecial WireIran’s leaders embrace firebrand Iraqi cleric

Iran’s leaders embrace firebrand Iraqi cleric


Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Jan. 22 – Senior Iranian officials praised on Sunday radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr during his visit to Tehran over the weekend.
Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Jan. 22 – Senior Iranian officials praised on Sunday radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr during his visit to Tehran over the weekend.

Ali Larijani, the secretary-general of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, described Sadr as an “active, dynamic, and wise individual, representing Iraqi religious figures”.

Sadr’s armed militia, the Mehdi Army, launched an offensive against United States-led forces in Iraq in April 2004. The attempted uprising was, however, quashed after several military offensives by U.S. troops and the political intervention of Iraq’s senior Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

Larijani told Sadr that Iran and Iraq were natural allies.

“If unity [among various Iraqi groups”> is further consolidated, Israel and the U.S. will not be able to have a constant presence in Iraq”, the state-run IRNA news agency quoted Sadr as telling his Iranian host.

The firebrand cleric said that the U.S. had been targeting “Islamic ideology”.

He also said that his followers would support Iran if it ever came under foreign military aggression.

“If neighbouring Islamic countries, including Iran, come under attack, then the Mahdi Army will support them”, he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also met and held talks with Sadr on Sunday.

Mottaki said that Tehran wanted Iraqi political and ethnic groups to contribute to future developments in Iraq.

During the meeting, Sadr called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, adding that he sought stronger ties between Tehran and Baghdad.

“We have always been happy with growing links between the two Iranian and Iraqi nations and we have constantly been supporting stronger ties between Iran and Iraq and their neighbours”, Sadr said.

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