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Iran Elections: Conservative Candidate and Tehran Mayor Ghalibaf Withdraws from Race

Iran Elections: Conservative Candidate and Tehran Mayor Ghalibaf Withdraws from Race

Jahangiri's decision comes one day after Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf withdrew from the race, paving the way for a head-to-head battle between Rouhani and conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi.

Mr Raisi, a former prosecutor-general and close ally of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called for a more assertive approach to the West and a focus on building a self-sufficient "resistance economy".

According to current polls by the Iranian Students Polling Agency (ISPA), Raisi is now second in the race, next to current president and reformist Rouhani.

Summaryāˇ™ Print At a campaign rally, President Hassan Rouhani said Iranian officials are ready to negotiate with the United States on non-nuclear issues.

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The regional debates, or hustings, will take place in Ballinasloe, Dublin, Carlow and Cork over four days next week. He said the country was at an important crossroads and it was important not to make the mistakes of the past.

The election is being largely viewed as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear deal struck with world powers led by Rouhani's administration.

Some conservatives had been unhappy that Qalibaf was standing again and risking a split in the anti-Rouhani vote.

Iranian voters are set to cast ballot in the country's presidential election on Friday. Mohseni Ejei said the two arrests arose from an attempt by an election candidate's campaign office to steal documents pertaining to a rival.

"There's nothing that....brings out young, liberal voters like a hard-line conservative, which Raisi is", Kupchan said. Rouhani, who pledged to reduce Iran's worldwide isolation and grant more freedoms at home, averted a second round by winning just over 50 percent.

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"It's definitely more hard for Rouhani now", said Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

Rouhani, a pragmatist cleric, was elected in 2013 by 51 per cent of votes on promises to ease Iran's global isolation and end the house arrest of opposition leaders. It was Khamenei who a year ago appointed Raisi, 56, to manage the Astan Quds Razavi, an Islamic charity that controls assets worth billions of dollars, as well as the Imam Reza shrine in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad. While a Raisi win "could usher in a more confrontational approach to domestic and regional policies", she warns.

Analysts have said Raisi might name Qalibaf as his vice-president to appeal to technocrats, although neither of them has responded to such predictions. The deal saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions.

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