TEHRAN: A high-ranking Iranian cleric yesterday urged Shi'ite militants and Iraq's government to negotiate an end to their clashes that have cost dozens of lives in Iran's conflict-torn neighbour.
Shi'ite militants including the Mahdi Army of cleric Moqtada Al Sadr and the government should "sit down" and "sort it out", said Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati.
"I really ask the popular forces in Basra that if you, brothers, have something to say, come and sit down and tell the government," Jannati said during prayers in Tehran, referring to Mahdi Army's supporters.
"There are some who are benevolent and can act as mediators.
"I ask the government of dear and esteemed Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki, who is running the government with power and wisdom to listen to these popular forces and see what they say and sort it out together."
Jannati heads the hardline Guardians Council, the Islamic republic's top vetting body which must approve all parliamentary legislation.