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Clerics Back Velayati In Iran Poll

Ali Akbar Velayati

Ali Akbar Velayati

A conservative clerics group in Iran has endorsed former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati in the country's June 14 presidential election.

The Mehr news agency reported that the Qom Seminary Scholars Association has endorsed Velayati in the race to succeed President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

The association is one of two leading conservative clerical bodies in the holy city of Qom.

There is a pro-reform clerics group in Qom, but it has not announced an endorsement.

Velayati, 67, served as foreign minister for 16 years and is now a foreign-policy adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

He is considered a front-runner in the eight-man race, although he faces competition, including from senior nuclear negotiator Said Jalili.

Based on reporting by AFP and Press TV