US backs "dictators, butchers and extremists" in Middle East, Iranian FM Zarif says

REUTERS
GENEVA
Published 06.02.2019 10:16
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (AFP Photo)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (AFP Photo)

The United States supports "dictators, butchers and extremists" in the Middle East, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a Twitter post Wednesday in a response to U.S. President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech.

Tensions have ramped up between Iran and the United States since Trump pulled out of a multilateral nuclear deal last May and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

"US hostility has led it to support dictators, butchers & extremists, who've only brought ruin to our region," Zarif wrote in the Twitter post.

Trump called Iran "the world's leading state sponsor of terror" during his speech and said his administration had acted decisively to confront it, according to a video of the speech posted on the official White House website.

"It is a radical regime. They do bad, bad things," Trump said. "We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants 'death to America' and threatens genocide against the Jewish people."

Zarif responded by saying that Iran, including its Jewish community, was commemorating progress as it prepares to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution on Monday.

"Iranians—including our Jewish compatriots—are commemorating 40 yrs of progress despite US pressure, just as @realDonaldTrump again makes accusations against us @ #SOTU2019" Zarif wrote on Twitter, referring to the State of the Union address.

Top Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, have said that the Islamic Republic is facing its toughest economic situation in 40 years, at least partially due to the U.S. sanctions.

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