Top Shiite cleric calls for unity among Muslims

Iraq's Shiite cleric called Saturday for Muslim unity and called for an end to sectarian conflict - his first public statement in months on the worsening security crisis. In statement issued by his office, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani noted that differences between Sunnis and Shiites has existed for centuries but should not be the cause for bloodshed. "Everyone realizes the desperate need for unity and for renouncing divisions, avoiding sectarian fanaticism and avoiding arousing sectarian disputes," the statement said.