Iraqi cleric al-Sadr travels to meet Assad in Syria

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
July 17, 2010 16:29

 
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Powerful Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr made a rare trip abroad to meet Syrian President Bashar Assad for talks on the deadlocked Baghdad government Saturday.

Al-Sadr resides primarily in Iran, and his bloc of 39 seats makes him a key player in Iraq's politics where political factions have spent the last four months trying to form a government after inconclusive elections.

Assad urged Iraqi parties to put aside their differences and form a government swiftly to avoid "negative developments."

Home to about a million Iraqis refugees, including supporters of the previous regime, Syria has long had influence on events in Iraq.

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