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Maliki briefs cleric Sistani in Najaf

  |   May 22, 2008 at 7:20 PM
NAJAF, Iraq, May 22 (UPI) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf to brief him on developments in the country.

Maliki, a Shiite, told reporters following Thursday's meeting with the reclusive cleric that Sistani supported the latest efforts by Iraq to defend its people against militants in Basra, Sadr City and Mosul, London's Middle East Online reported.

"When politicians come to see Sayyid Sistani, he always recommends that the state should impose its authority and that arms should only be in the hands of the authorities to defend the downtrodden," the Iraqi premier said.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the meeting between the two influential Shiite leaders was a courtesy visit to the cleric to keep him abreast of the situation in Iraq, adding the meeting had "nothing to do with the current talks on the ministerial posts" in a new Iraqi Cabinet, Voices of Iraq said.

"Sayyid Ali al-Sistani represents safety for all Iraqis and the (supporters) for their inspirations, and the prime minister had to visit him to update him with the latest developments in the country and Iraq's relations with the regional countries," Dabbagh said.

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