Iran calls Pope's Iraq visit 'good' and 'constructive'
Iran's foreign ministry Monday called Pope Francis' trip to neighbouring Iraq "very good" and "constructive", and described his meeting with the country's top Shiite official as conveying inter-religious peace.
The "constructive" trip was made possible thanks to a "calm and secure Iraq", he said.
"Iraq, with the braveries of the Iraqi people, the wisdom of the (religious) authority, and the pure blood that was shed in the face of extremism and foreign conspiracies, has now reached a state of security," he added.
Tehran, with its allies within Baghdad's state-sponsored Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force, helped Iraqi troops fight the Sunni jihadist Islamic State (IS).
Iraq proclaimed victory over IS in late 2017.
"The meeting with Iraq's high (religious) authority, Ayatollah Sistani, on its own showed interreligious dialogue and closeness between religions," Khatibzadeh said.
He noted that it conveyed "no other message than dialogue, peace and friendship between religions and cooperation between civilisations, in contrast to those who seek violence and bloodshed".
Sistani, while an Iranian national, is considered a critic of the 'Wiliyat-i-Faqih' (Guardianship of Islamic Jurists) doctrine in power in Iran, and is seen to prefer a separation of religion and state.