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Iraqi Shiite leader meets with Jordan king in rare visit

October 23, 2017

Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, left, is received by Jordan’s King Abdullah II at the royal palace in Amman, Jordan, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. The king met with al-Sadr as the United States stepped up efforts to contain the influence of Shiite-led Iran in the Middle East. (Yousef Allan/Jordanian Royal Court via AP)

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan’s king met Monday with an influential Iraqi Shiite leader, as the United States stepped up efforts to contain the influence of Shiite-led Iran in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally and leader of the region’s camp of Sunni Muslim states that also includes Jordan, is concerned about the influence of its regional rival Iran in Iraq.

Iran has backed Shiite militias fighting against the Islamic State group in Iraq.

On Monday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II received Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite leader who in the past urged Shiite militias in Iraq to disband. A palace statement said the two talked about the need for expanding trade and economic cooperation, but provided no details.

A day earlier, Abdullah had met with Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi.

The meetings came after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Saudi Arabia over the weekend. Tillerson made the case for containing and isolating Iran in the Middle East, pushing Saudi Arabia and Iraq to unite to counter growing Iranian assertiveness.

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