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Iran's top leader faults government's progress on economy

In this picture released by official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader on Monday, March 20, 2017, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sits in a session to deliver his message for the Iranian New Year, Iran. Nowruz, a festival to celebrate the new Persian year starts with the spring. Iranians follow the Persian solar year, and this year, they begin the year 1396. A portrait of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini is placed at right. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

TEHRAN — Iran's supreme leader has suggested the government has fallen short in its efforts to improve the economy as moderate President Hassan Rouhani prepares to campaign for re-election in May.

In a televised message in honor of the Persian New Year, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said yesterday that "there is a large gap between what has been carried out, and what the people and what we expect."

Rouhani was a driving force behind Iran's 2015 nuclear accord with world powers, which lifted international sanctions in return for restrictions on the country's nuclear program, but the effects have yet to trickle down to many Iranians.

The supreme leader, who supported the nuclear negotiations but has not weighed in on the accord itself, has the final word on all major policies in Iran.

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