Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves to the crowd prior to his speech at the northeastern city of Mashhad, Iran, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. AP
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a speech marking the Persian New Year, accused the United States and some European countries of being behind women-led Iranian protests that flared in September last year.
Khamenei said the West had sought to isolate Iran to no avail, adding that "we have strengthened our ties with Asia 100 percent, and we will continue this".
He said Iran's relationship with the West had "weakened", but "we are not upset with Europe and are ready to work with any European countries or governments that do not blindly follow US policies".
The European Union and Britain have imposed waves of sanctions on Iran over its response to the protests that erupted over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurd, after her arrest for an alleged breach of Iran's dress code for women.
Hundreds of people were killed, including dozens of security personnel, and thousands were arrested for taking part in what Iranian officials described as "riots" fomented by the United States and its allies.
Khamenei said Western leaders had "supported the riots which were represented by a small percentage of the Iranian nation", adding that Iran had shown it was strong in the face of "such an international conspiracy".
The supreme leader also touched on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, denying Iran had any involvement in the conflict, despite accusations by Kyiv and its allies that it has supplied Russia with kamikaze drones used to bomb civilian targets.
"We decisively reject being present in the Ukraine war," he said.
"The poor Ukrainian people are afflicted with problems, but the weapons-manufacturing factories of the US are benefitting," he added.