Monday, 18 December, 2017

Iran’s Supreme Leader blames US for regional instability

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the United States for instability in the Middle East and said Washington’s fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was “a lie”.

“You [the United States] and your agents are the source of instability in the Middle East… Who created Islamic State? America… America’s claim of fighting against Islamic State is a lie,” Khamenei said on Monday in a meeting with high-ranking Iranian officials, according to his official website.

Ayatollah Khamenei has made several statements denouncing the United States since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, while US President Donald Trump has spoken out against Iran in harsh terms since taking office, indicating he will reverse the previous administration’s attempts at rapprochement with Tehran.

The Iranian leader has accused the United States and its regional ally Saudi Arabia of funding hardline groups, including ISIL, which carried out its first attack in Iran on Wednesday in Tehran, killing 17 people.

Riyadh has denied involvement in the suicide bombings and gun attacks on Iran’s parliament and the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who favours opening up to the world, has condemned the attacks, without pointing a finger at any country.

The pragmatist president championed a nuclear deal with the United States and five other powers in 2015 that led to the lifting of most sanctions against Iran, in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

But the deal has not led to normalisation of ties between the two countries that Rouhani hoped for. Trump has frequently called the agreement “one of the worst deals ever signed” and said Washington would review it.

Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran had no intention of normalising ties with the United States.

“The American government is against an independent Iran… They have problems with the existence of Islamic Republic of Iran… Most of our problems with them cannot be resolved,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying.

“America is a terrorist country and backs terrorism … therefore, we cannot normalise ties with such country,” he said.

Source: Reuters news agency

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