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Iranian leader appears in public after canceling engagements due to illness

Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared in public at a religious ceremony Saturday, delivering an address after previously canceling other engagements due to health.

On Saturday, Khamenei spoke at the Imam Khomeini Hussainiyah hall near his home at a ceremony for Arbaeen, a Shia religious practice commemorating 40 days after the anniversary of the death of the third Shiite Imam Hussain Ibn Ali. According to an English translation of the speech posted on Khamenei’s website, attendance was limited.

“This is due to the existence of the pandemic, the coronavirus, and the like, and also due to the limitations that exist,” Khamenei said, adding that he sends regards “to all those who have expressed their kindness toward me and sent their greetings to me from afar.”

The New York Times reported Friday that Khamenei canceled all of his public appearances and meetings the previous week. The report said Khamenei was “gravely ill” and “on bed rest” while doctors monitored his condition.

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A source told the Times that the Iranian leader had experienced stomach pains and fever before undergoing surgery for a bowel obstruction. He reportedly had been in critical condition but improved.

Khamenei, 83, took ill not long after returning to Tehran from a visit to a shrine in the city of Mashhad. The Times reported that he told those with him on the trip that it could be his final visit there.

Among the meetings Khamenei reportedly canceled was one with the Assembly of Experts, the panel that determines his successor.

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