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Iranian presidential hopeful would reboot Ahmadinejad's policies

| Saturday, June 8, 2013, 6:15 p.m.

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's former top nuclear negotiator, a candidate in presidential elections next week, vowed on Saturday that he would reset the country's economy and reverse President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's foreign policy stance if elected.

At a campaign rally in Tehran, Hasan Rowhani said his priority in foreign policy would be to reconcile with the outside world and distance Iran from Ahmadinejad's combative, hardline style.

“We won't let the past 8 years be continued,” he said. “They brought sanctions for the country. Yet, they are proud of it,” he told a cheering crowd. “I'll pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace.”

Iran is living under U.N. sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. The West imposed oil and banking sanctions deeply cutting Iran's revenues.

Rowhani, one of eight candidates approved by the Guardian Council, Iran's election overseers, said Iran should protect its nuclear achievements and work to get sanctions lifted through constructive interaction with the West.

“Despite all the problems, we will break sanctions through people's assistance, unity, national solidarity and consensus among authorities.”

Iran's president does not have control of central issues such as nuclear policy, but a leader close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei can wield influence.

Rowhani said one of his top priorities was the economy. Iran's currency, the rial, has lost more than half of its value in the past year. Inflation stands at over 30 percent.

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