- Associated Press - Thursday, November 29, 2018

BAGHDAD (AP) - The official website of Iraq’s most senior Shiite cleric has published a rare photo of the aging leader, the first in several years.

The photo shows Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani meeting with the special representative of the U.N. Secretary General for Iraq Jan Kubis, who visited the elderly cleric at his base in Najaf south of Baghdad. The photo release, in which he appeared to be in good health, appeared aimed at reassuring supporters and sending a message to Iraq’s politicians, with whom he hasn’t met for the past three years.

Al-Sistani, who is believed to be 89, stressed in the meeting the need for political blocs in parliament to cooperate with the government to improve living conditions, according to his office.

The Iranian-born cleric also stressed the need for respecting Iraq’s sovereignty.

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