Hezbollah leader visits top Shia cleric

BEIRUT — The leader of  Hezbollah Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah made a rare trip to visit to a top Shia Muslim cleric visiting Lebanon for medical checkups, the group's media office said Tuesday.

It is rare for Nasrallah to make public appearances, or leave his secret locations, for fear of assassination by Israel.

The Hezbollah media office said that Nasrallah visited Grand Ayatollah Bashir al-Najafi and discussed "Muslim affairs with him." It did not elaborate or say where the meeting took place.

Al-Najafi arrived in Beirut last week where he was supposed to undergo medical tests.

Al-Najafi, a Pakistani, is one of the influential Shia clerics worldwide and has been based in the Iraqi  holy city of Najaf for decades. He is one of four top Shia Marj’a  based in Najaf.

Najaf, known for its dozens of seminaries, is the center of Shia Islam's religious leadership, to which many of the world's 300 million Shiites turn for spiritual and political guidance.

Nasrallah did some of his religious studies in Najaf before moving to the Iranian holy city of Qom, fleeing Saddam Hussein's persecution.

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