Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Jerusalem Post | Rafsanjani vows to open Iran to the world

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JPost.com » Middle East » Article
Jun. 1, 2005 0:10
Rafsanjani vows to open Iran to the world
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
TEHRAN, Iran
Iran's leading presidential candidate campaigned Tuesday on a promise to open his country to the world, a vision that apparently contradicts the goals of the country's supreme leader.

"We need to think global since globalization is a reality and not a foreign-made (concept)," said Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and front-runner in the June 17 elections.

"Iran needs a new form of communication with the world. We have to take the international climate into account and take advantage of it," the 70-year-old Rafsanjani said.

Rafsanjani is running his domestic campaign under the slogan, "Let's work together," interpreted as a reconciliation gesture as he has moved frequently between the hard-line and more moderate camps.

His globalization comments contradict the views expressed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has called on Iranians to elect an anti-Western president.

Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, denied that he backs a certain candidate, though half of the eight men running for president are strongly loyal to him.

"Some people may say that I support a particular candidate but it is not right," state-run television quoted Khamenei as saying Tuesday. "I have just one vote and nobody will know for whom it will be cast in the ballot box on the election day.""