BFnews: Erdoğan visited the shrine of Imam Ali (AS) in Najaf, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, and prayed there. After that, he went to his meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Iraqi-based highest-ranking cleric in the Middle East for Shiites.
Erdoğan's Najaf visit and the meeting with Sistani come as Turkey is concerned over Shiite-Sunni unrest in Bahrain. Khaled al-Jashaami, a member of Najaf's provincial council, told Agence France-Presse ahead of the visit: We expect Iraqi issues to be discussed, as well as what is happening in neighboring countries, especially in Bahrain.
Becoming the first ever Sunni leader who visited the shrine of Imam Ali (AS), the visit by Erdoğan to the shrine has been seen as a significant step for rapprochement between Sunnis and Shiites at a time when concerns over sectarian clashes have grown in the region. Following last year's elections, Ankara held contacts with all ethnic and sectarian groups in Iraq in order to pave the way for a broad-based government, in a bid to maintain its legitimate stance and credibility in the eyes of the Iraqi people.
Ahead of departing for Najaf, in Baghdad, Erdoğan visited Al-Kadhimiya Mosque, which contains the tombs of the seventh Twelver Shi'ah Imam Musa al-Kadhim and the ninth Twelver Shi'ah Imam Muhammad at-Taqi, and the tomb of Imam-e-Azam Abu Hanifah.
Source : World Bulletin