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Pope Francis meets top Shiite cleric in Iraq

Pope Francis met Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani – one of the most senior clerics in Shiite Islam – in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf on Saturday to deliver a message of peaceful co-existence, urging Muslims to embrace Iraq’s long-beleaguered Christian minority. The historic meeting in Mr al-Sistani’s humble home was months in the making, with every detail painstakingly discussed and negotiated between the ayatollah’s office and the Vatican. The closed-door meeting was expected to touch on issues plaguing Iraq’s Christian minority. Mr al-Sistani is a deeply revered figure in Shiite-majority Iraq whose opinions on religious matters are sought by Shiites worldwide.

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