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Iran's Supreme Leader Endorses Ahmadinejad for Second Term


Iranian state media say the country's supreme leader has urged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to plan for a second four-year term in office.

It is the first time that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has made such a strong public endorsement of Mr. Ahmadinejad, who faces re-election next year. The ayatollah has the final say on all the country's affairs.

Ayatollah Khamenei met Mr. Ahmadinejad and the Cabinet Saturday and praised them for defying international pressure to stop Iran's nuclear program. He also praised them for resisting Western ideas, which he said had infiltrated the previous administration.

That was an apparent reference to Mr. Ahmadinejad's predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, who sought closer ties with the West.

President Ahmadinejad has come under strong criticism from fellow conservatives for his handling of Iran's high inflation and other economic problems. Some of his conservatives critics may challenge him for the presidency.

Mr. Ahmadinejad welcomed the ayatollah's endorsement, saying it represents a medal of honor for the government.

Iran has rejected demands by major powers to suspend uranium enrichment. Tehran says its nuclear work is aimed at generating electricity, but Washington and its allies suspect Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.

President Ahmadinejad's conservative critics say his approach to Iran's nuclear dispute with the West has been too confrontational. He was elected president in 2005 on a promise to help the poor benefit from Iran's oil wealth.

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