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Trump warns Iranian leader who called him a 'clown' to be 'very careful with his words'

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves to worshippers prior to deliver his sermon in the Friday prayers at Imam Khomeini Grand Mosque in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020.

OFFICE OF THE IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER/AP

By MICHAEL COLLINS, KIM HJELMGAARD AND DAVID JACKSON | USA Today | Published: January 18, 2020

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — President Donald Trump fired back Friday evening at Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who earlier had mocked him as a "clown" -- then in a subsequent tweet Trump said Iran's leaders "should abandon terror and Make Iran Great Again!"

"The so-called 'Supreme Leader' of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the United States and Europe," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!"

Trump tweeted hours after Khamenei called him a "clown" who will "push a poisonous dagger" into Iran's back.

In a rare public address as he led Friday prayers in Tehran, Khamenei also defended Iran's military after it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane.

Khamenei also condemned Trump and the U.S. for the deadly drone strike against a top Iranian general.

"The villainous U.S. government repeatedly says that they are standing by the Iranian people. They lie," Khamenei said. "If you are standing with the Iranian people, it is only to stab them in the heart with their venomous daggers."

In another post Friday evening, Trump later tweeted a message to Iranian citizens, including a riff on his 2016 campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."

"The noble people of Iran--who love America--deserve a government that's more interested in helping them achieve their dreams than killing them for demanding respect," he said. "Instead of leading Iran toward ruin, its leaders should abandon terror and Make Iran Great Again!"

Trump also tweeted out that message in Farsi.

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