TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad dismissed speculation about a discord between Tehran and Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, describing him as a “dear and influential friend and brother” of the Islamic Republic.

In an interview with Alalam news network, Iraj Masjedi said Iran “welcomes and supports the will of the Iraqi people” in the recent parliamentary election and congratulated the Iraqi parties, groups and alliances that won seats in the parliament.

Highlighting Iran’s “warm and friendly ties” with Iraqi people of different strata, the ambassador underlined that Tehran has “constructive relations with all (Iraqi) groups and coalitions which have won the majority of seats” in the parliamentary election.

He further denied reports of division between Iran and Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite figure whose bloc came out on top in the recent vote, saying, “Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr is a dear and influential friend and brother in our friend and neighboring country, Iraq.”

Masjedi also lauded what he called “age-old and deep-rooted relations” between Iran and Sadr, saying the Islamic Republic had also close ties with the late father and uncle of the prominent cleric.

His comments came after al-Sadr's Sairoon coalition took 54 out of 328 seats in the May 12 parliamentary election in Iraq.

With no bloc winning the 165 seats required for an outright majority, negotiations to form a coalition government in Iraq are expected to drag on for weeks.

In comments in April, Muqtada al-Sadr expressed readiness to resolve some disputes between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

In July 2017, Sadr made a rare visit to Saudi Arabia and met the crown prince and other officials in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.