Riyadh: Saudi Arabia's King met yesterday with prominent Iraqi Sunni and Shiite clerics and urged them to practise patience and serenity in their country, an official statement said.
The meeting of the clerics with King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz in Makkah underlined the growing concern over sectarian violence in Iraq.
"May your country live in peace and pacification; my brothers, we need now patience, calmness and quietude to get to know each other," the King said, according to the statement.
A prominent hard-line Iraqi Sunni cleric, Harith Al Dhari, who leads the influential Association of Muslim Scholars, was among those who met with King Abdullah.
Al Dhari has expressed his readiness to meet with top Shiite religious leaders, part of an initiative to curb sectarian violence.
Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq has risen steadily since the February 22 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra, triggering a wave of reprisal killings and raising fears of a civil war.
Saudi Arabia, along with many other countries in the region, worries about the prospect of civil war in Iraq.
It fears Iranian influence on Iraq's new Shiite ruling elite and that the growing Shiite-Sunni tensions inside Iraq might spill over into other countries.
The Saudis are especially sensitive to the possibility of unrest among the kingdom's Shiite minority because it is centred in the east of the country.
Last week in Jeddah, a preparatory meeting was held by the 57 member nations of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to formulate a document on reconciliation between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites.
The document is to be proclaimed at the next meeting of the OIC, which is scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
The OIC seeks "stopping the turmoil in Iraq out of consciousness of its responsibility before Allah, the Islamic nation and history," organisation secretary-general Ekmel Al Deen Ehsanoglu said in a statement.