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Top Iraqi Cleric Rejects Trump's Statements on US Troops

FILE - In this May 4, 2018 photo, followers of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hold a poster of Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, during a parliamentary campaign rally in Baghdad.

Iraq's most senior Shi'ite cleric has expressed his criticism of President Donald Trump's recent statement that U.S. troops should stay in Iraq to keep an eye on neighboring Iran.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is the latest Iraqi official to criticize Trump's remarks made to U.S. media in which he said U.S. troops are needed in Iraq so that America can "watch Iran."

Al-Sistani says Iraq rejects serving as a launching pad to harm any other country. He spoke on Wednesday, during a meeting with U.N. Iraq envoy Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert at the cleric's base in the city of Najaf.

He says Iraq aspires to have good and balanced relations with all neighboring countries, without interference in its internal affairs.

Both Iraq's president and prime minister have hit back at Trump's statements.