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Iran Former President Softens Tehran's Stance on Israel

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's influential former president has expressed a softer stance toward the country's archenemy Israel in sharp contrast to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's typical anti-Israel remarks.

Several Iranian newspapers, including the pro-reform Shargh daily, on Monday quoted Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as saying: "We are not at war with Israel."

The remark is seen as part of growing calls by high-profile Iranian politicians, including potential presidential candidates, to repair Iran's image abroad. Ahmadinejad's comment in 2005 that Israel should be destroyed prompted an international outcry.

Last week, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf — Tehran mayor who is considered a potential candidate in the June presidential election — said the president's anti-Jewish remarks have damaged Iran.

Rafsanjani has not said whether he plans to run in the election.

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Iran's influential former president has expressed a softer stance toward the country's archenemy Israel in sharp contrast to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad' typical anti-Israel remarks.
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