According to the report, the meeting took place on 8 February at Al-Sadr's home in the city of Najaf and lasted half an hour, during which Al-Sadr received the general in his trademark brusque manner.
The meeting didn't go well.
According to the Iraqi and Iranian officials, Al-Sadr wore a black-and-white Arab headdress and brown robe, a deliberate look to identify with the local Arab population and not the usual all-black vestments and Shia clerical turban he generally wears in public.
"What does Iraqi politics have to do with you?" Al-Sadr challenged Qaani, according to one of the officials. "We don't want you interfering."
Al-Sadr has been a crucial force in Iraq for much of the two decades since the US invaded and overthrew Saddam Hussein.
The sources explained that Qaani told Al-Sadr that if he included Tehran's allies in any coalition, Iran would recognise Al-Sadr as Iraq's main Shia political figure, no small gesture among the religious community's fractious leadership.
Al-Sadr, however, was unswayed. In a tweet after the meeting, he stressed his commitment to a government free of foreign interference. "Neither Eastern nor Western," he said, "A nationalist majority government."
Neither Iran nor Al-Sadr responded to requests for comment.
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