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Former Iranian President Khatami Urged to Run Again


Supporters of former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami have urged him to run for the office again.

The call came during a ceremony Thursday in his hometown of Yazd, in central Iran.

Students who attended the tribute for Mr. Khatami chanted his name and called him "the next president."

But the former leader remained silent on whether he would mount a comeback by running against his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in next June's presidential election.

Several European politicians also paid tribute to Mr. Khatami at the ceremony, including former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and former Irish President Mary Robinson. Some of them said the event had the feel of an election campaign.

Mr. Khatami is a prominent reformist who served as Iran's president from 1997 to 2005. His allies say he has the best chance of unseating Mr. Ahmadinejad, a conservative who has the backing of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's domestic critics accuse him of provoking international isolation with vitriolic statements against Israel and the United States. They also blame him for Iran's high inflation, which hovers around 30 percent.

Former Iranian Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi says Mr. Khatami cannot avoid standing for election when, he says, Iran is in need.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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