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Khamenei: Only A Strong Nation Can Avoid 'Oppression'

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaking in Mashhad on March 21
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that only a strong nation can avoid being oppressed by foreign powers and called for economic independence.

Speaking in the northeastern city of Mashhad in an address to mark Norouz, the Persian new year, Khamenei said, "The extortionists in the world will blackmail a weak nation, insult it, attack it, and trample it under their feet."

Iran is struggling under international sanctions imposed over its nuclear program, which the West suspects has military objectives despite Iranian denials.

Iran struck an initial deal with the group on November 24 to curb its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

Negotiations for a final deal are ongoing.

However, Khamenei said Iran should not pin its hopes on "when the enemy will lift the sanctions."

Based on reporting by AP and AFP