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Iran leader says bid to isolate Iran failed amid regional diplomacy

March 21, 2023 at 8:16 pm

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on March 06, 2023 [Iranian Leader Press Office/Anadolu Agency]

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Tuesday that attempts by Western countries to isolate Iran have backfired, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Iran marked the beginning of the New Year on Tuesday with nationwide events. Khamenei’s speech at Imam Reza shrine in the north-eastern city of Mashhad came after three years of the pandemic.

In his traditional New Year speech, Khamenei said Iran’s relations with Western countries have weakened but the country’s neighbourhood-centric foreign policy has succeeded while pointing to the recent rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The resumption of diplomatic ties between the two arch-foes, Khamenei said, has been widely welcomed in the Arab world and has dealt a “devastating blow” to the US government.

He said Iran intends to further enhance its ties with Asian countries, as well as countries in Africa and Latin America. He also expressed readiness to improve relations with European countries that “do not blindly follow America’s policy (on Iran).”

His remarks came amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West over the 2015 nuclear deal stalemate, recent protests in the country and the war in Ukraine.

In recent weeks, following the China-brokered agreement between Tehran and Riyadh to restore diplomatic ties after seven years, regional dynamics have seen tectonic shifts with Iran making efforts to boost diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait and break the diplomatic ice with Bahrain.

Khamenei accused the US and its allies, including Israel, of attempting to topple the government in Tehran and “change the identity of the Islamic Republic”.

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Regarding the anti-government protests in Iran, Khamenei said the US President “openly supported” the “riots”, adding that “some insiders” also endorsed the “regime change” call given by “foreigners”.

The countrywide protests were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody in mid-September 2022. Hundreds were killed in the months-long unrest, which saw Western states impose a slew of fresh sanctions on Iran.

The latest round of EU and UK human rights-related eight sanctions on Iran came on Monday, with at least one entity and individuals designated over rights violations.

Khamenei also spoke about the year-long war in Ukraine, saying Iran “explicitly declares” that it has no participation in the war, while blaming the US and its allies of fuelling the conflict.

The Iranian leader said the US “profits the most” from the ongoing war in Ukraine, underway since February last year and is pre-empting efforts aimed at ending the conflict.