Influential clerics support top leader’s adviser

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An influential Iranian clerical body has announced its support for presidential candidate Ali Akbar Velayati in the June 14 election.

A Sunday report by the semi-official Mehr news agency quotes the Association of Teachers of Qom Seminary as saying the association decided to support Velayati, current foreign adviser for Iran’s Supreme Leader.

The association is seen an important reference body for many conservatives and average Iranian voters who are devout.

The decision is seen as a blow to Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, who was campaigning in a coalition with Velayati.

Velayati, who served as foreign minister from 1981-1997, is one of eight candidates.

He has vowed for better relations with the world and criticized Iran’s current positions in talks with the West over its disputed nuclear program.

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