RELIGION

Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in visit to Saudi Arabia

Iraq's influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is on a rare visit to Saudi Arabia.

Al-Sadr's office released a statement Sunday saying he'd been invited to the Sunni kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is concerned about the influence of its rival Iran in Iraq, which backs Shiite militias fighting against the Islamic State group there. Al-Sadr is among those who've called for the militias to disband.

Pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat posted a photo on its Twitter account of al-Sadr arriving in Saudi Arabia and being greeted by Thamer al-Sabhan, the kingdom's former ambassador to Iraq and its first to be assigned to Baghdad after a 25-year break.

Al-Sabhan was renamed minister of state for the Gulf region after tensions with the Iraqi government. He'd claimed that Iranian-backed militias were plotting to assassinate him.