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Pope Francis meets Iraq's top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Sistani

Baku, March 7, AZERTAC

Pope Francis has met Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani - Iraq's top Shia cleric - at the Islamic scholar's home in the Iraqi city of Najaf, according to Sky News.

The Pope arrived at the cleric's small home in a bullet-proof vehicle. As he entered the house, white doves were released, reflecting the themes of this four-day visit to Iraq - peace, reconciliation and inter-faith dialogue.

The meeting - the first of its kind between two such senior leaders in the Christian and Muslim world - was held privately and holds huge symbolism.

Following the meeting, al Sistani called on other religious leaders to hold great powers to account and for wisdom and sense to prevail over war.

He also said that Christians and Muslims should live in peace and coexistence in Iraq.

In a statement, Sistani said, "Religious and spiritual leadership must play a big role to put a stop to tragedy... and urge sides, especially great powers, to make wisdom and sense prevail and erase the language of war".

From Najaf the Pope travelled to Ur, the ancient archaeological site believed to be the birthplace of Abraham, the patriarch of the three monotheistic religions - Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

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