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Iranian media: Sistani's meeting with Rouhani endorsement of ‘moderation’

President Hassan Rouhani’s audience with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani signaled an approval of the president’s moderate positions both at home and abroad, according to Iranian media.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, Iraq, March 13, 2019 . REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani - RC1527D5C9D0

President Hassan Rouhani became the first sitting Iranian president to meet with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most senior Iraqi Shiite leader, when he visited the holy city of Najaf on March 14. The meeting took place on the final day of his three-day tour of Iraq. The historic meeting received widespread coverage by Iranian newspapers and was well received by both conservative and Reformist media.

Hard-line and conservative outlets alike hailed Rouhani's cooperation with Iraq — which shares political, religious and cultural ties with Iran — rather than Europe or the United States. The hard-line Kayhan reported that Rouhani's trip "had a clear message to those who sanction" Iran. The message, according to Kayhan, was that "no one is capable of economically blockading a powerful country like the Islamic Republic of Iran." The headline: "America's anger … with the president's productive trip to Iraq." It also compared President Donald Trump's secret visit to Iraq, in which he did not meet with Iraqi officials, to Rouhani's tour, in which he met with a broad range of Iraqi figures.

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