King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has met radical Iraqi leader Muqtada al-Sadr in the firebrand Iraqi cleric's first major appearance on the regional scene, Saudi media and Iraqi officials said Wednesday.
State-run Saudi TV showed the US-allied monarch receiving the black bearded, anti-American al-Sadr at a reception held for Muslim dignitaries for the annual hajj pilgrimage.
"It was a good meeting and King Abdullah expressed (to al-Sadr) the kingdom's support for Iraq's national unity," one Iraqi official attending the hajj said condition of anonymity as he was unauthorized to speak to the media.
The meeting came amid a Saudi-Iraqi row over the number of Iraqi pilgrims allowed into the kingdom this year. Saudi officials also criticized Iraq's Shi'ite interim prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, over the affair.
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