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Arab League's Amr Moussa meets top Shiite cleric in Iraq

Arab World Materials 10 January 2011 15:40 (UTC +04:00)
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa met with Iraq's top Shiite cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in Najaf on Monday to discuss an upcoming Arab League summit in Baghdad.
Arab League's Amr Moussa meets top Shiite cleric in Iraq

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa met with Iraq's top Shiite cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in Najaf on Monday to discuss an upcoming Arab League summit in Baghdad, DPA reported.

Despite reservations by some Arab states that Iraq is too volatile to host the summit, Moussa told reporters after the meeting that he expects "an active presence of Arab leaders in the next summit."

Iraq has not hosted the 22-member organization's summit since 1978, although it hosted a smaller Arab League session just months before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.

The Arab League chief arrived in Iraq on Saturday for a two-day visit to plan for the March 23 event.

A day before his visit to Najaf, located about 180 kilometres south of Baghdad, Moussa met in Baghdad with Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and Iraqiya List party leader Iyad Allawi.

He also delivered a speech to Iraq's parliament, in which he said the Arab League and Iraq must work to better "protect Christians who face targeted attacks."

Shortly after giving the speech, Moussa visited Our Lady of Salvation church, where at least 52 people were killed and 70 injured when Iraqi forces tried to free worshippers taken hostage by militants.

The Arab League chief is expected to round-up his Iraq tour with a visit to Irbil, located in the northern Kurdistan region, where Egypt recently opened a consulate.

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