Nuclear negotiator Jalili leads Iranian poll race | india | Hindustan Times
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Nuclear negotiator Jalili leads Iranian poll race

Steadfastly loyal to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini, Saeed Jalili, who has taken a tough line with the West as chief nuclear negotiator, is now a leading contender in the June 14 presidential election with a slick campaign and pledges to fix the faulty economy.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2013 00:48 IST

Steadfastly loyal to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini, Saeed Jalili, who has taken a tough line with the West as chief nuclear negotiator, is now a leading contender in the June 14 presidential election with a slick campaign and pledges to fix the faulty economy.

With two prominent, more pragmatic candidates disqualified from running, the race is now dominated by conservative hardliners true to Khamenei.

Though there is no clear front-runner in a country without reliable opinion polls, among the three high-profile conservatives still standing, Jalili may be nosing ahead. Given what analysts say is Khamenei’s determination to see a loyalist back in presidency, it is likely one of them will win, defeating the sole moderate contender.

Khamenei, the clerical supr-eme leader, controls policy on the nuclear stand-off, foreign affairs and security matters. A new president may bring only a change of nuance or style in Iran’s fraught relations with the West.

“(The) most important objective for next president may be the country’s economy. He should have a serious plan,” Jalili wrote on his Twitter account.

Some diplomats and analysts question whether Jalili is the right person to repair the economy and run the country. They see him as a narrow ideologue with scant experience in practical policy or management.