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Iran's Rouhani Urges Muslims To Unite Against U.S.

In this photo released by official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, center, attends an annual Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. Rouhani has called Israel a "cancerous tumor" establ

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on Muslims across the world to unite against the United States, instead of "rolling out red carpets for criminals."

"Submitting to the West headed by America would be treason against our religion," Rouhani told a conference in Tehran on November 24, calling Israel a "cancerous tumor" established by Western countries to advance their interests in the Middle East.

The United States in May withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers, saying the terms of the accord were not strict enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It also accuses Tehran of supporting militant violence in the region and other "malign" activities. Iran denies the allegations.

Washington in August started imposing crippling sanctions on Iran's economy that were lifted in exchange for curbs on the country's nuclear activities.

Iranian officials frequently condemn Israel and predict its demise. Israel views Iran's clerical establishment as an existential threat.

Addressing the annual Islamic Unity Conference, Rouhani said Muslim governments "have a choice to either roll out red carpets for criminals, or to forcefully stand against injustice and remain faithful to our Prophet, our Koran, and our Islam,"

The Iranian president was apparently referring to Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries that have close ties to Washington.

Rouhani assured Saudis they were "brothers" who had nothing to fear from Tehran.

"We are ready to defend the interests of the Saudi people against terrorism, aggression, and the superpowers," he said.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional rivals and have supported opposing sides in conflicts in Syria and Yemen, as well as different political factions in Iraq and Lebanon. Tehran also supports militant groups in the Middle East such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran nearly three years ago after protesters stormed its diplomatic posts in Iran following the kingdom's execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters