TUNIS - Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani referred to Israel as a "cancer" in the region on Friday and accused it and the United States of trying to "sterilize" the Arab Spring revolutions.

“Even after the revolutions that happened in the region, the US and Israel tried to divert and devastate some of the revolutions so that Israel can benefit,” Iran's official Press TV news quoted Larijani as saying at a ceremony in Tunisia celebrating the country's new constitution.

In light of the Iranian official's address, a US delegation walked out in protest from the assembly in Tunis.

The ceremony, which included French President Francois Hollande and other foreign dignitaries, was meant to mark Tunisia's newly adopted constitution, widely praised as a model for the region.

Three years after its uprising inspired the "Arab Spring" revolts across the region, Tunisia is progressing to full democracy with a new charter and caretaker government in charge until elections later this year.

"What was intended to be a ceremony honoring Tunisia's achievements was used by the Iranian representative as a platform to denounce the United States," the US embassy in Tunis said in statement.

The US delegation left after the "false accusations and inappropriate comments", it said.

While Tunisia has advanced towards democracy, other countries such as Libya and Egypt have struggled with unrest and violence since overthrowing their long-ruling autocratic rulers.



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