Iran's Rouhani urges Iranians to 'put all your curses' on US

ADDITION: ADDS DATE - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during the inauguration ceremony of four projects at the South Pars gas field on the northern coast of the Persian Gulf, in Asaluyeh, Iran, Sunday, March 17, 2019. Iran said the development will allow Iran to overtake Qatar in the production of natural gas. The two countries are among the biggest gas producers in the world, and share the South Pars gas field. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, center, speaks during a media briefing after a cabinet meeting, as senior Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, left, and Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami listen, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, March 18, 2019. On Monday Rouhani urged Iranians to put a curse on the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia -- blaming America and its allies for his country's ailing economy. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's president on Monday urged Iranians to put a curse on the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, reiterating his long-standing charge that the U.S. and its allies are responsible for the country's ailing economy.

President Hassan Rouhani's remarks were meant to deflect criticism of his administration's performance amid a spiraling economy after President Donald Trump last year pulled America out of the nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran, targeting Iran's vital oil sector.

"Put all your curses on those who created the current situation," Rouhani urged Iranians, adding that "the United States, the Zionists" and Saudi Arabia were to blame. He didn't say what kind of curses the Iranians should invoke.

The U.S. plan, Rouhani claimed, was to "dominate" the Iranian nation, something Washington will not achieve.

On Sunday, the same day he inaugurated a new phase in the development of a massive natural gas field, Rouhani said Iran's inflation is "above 20 percent" and that this country of 80 million people has more than 3 million unemployed.

He promised to increase wages in both the government and the private sector, and raise pensions.

The crisis that is gripping Iran has hurt ordinary Iranians and emboldened Rouhani's critics to openly call for his ouster. Rouhani, who first came to power in 2013, was re-elected for a second term in 2017, promising to improve the economy and foster more open relations with the world.

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This story has been corrected to say that Rouhani was re-elected in 2017.

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