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Iran's Rezaei open to U.S. talks

BANDAR ABBAS, Iran, May 18 (UPI) -- Principlist Iranian presidential contender Mohsen Rezaei said he would pursue constructive dialogue with the United States if elected to office.

Rezaei, a former commander of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, told the Iranian Labor News Agency he saw a "convergence" between Washington and Tehran, promising to pursue a broader engagement policy if elected to office.

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"My government will involve in a constructive and effective interaction with the U.S. administration should I win the presidential elections," he said on the campaign trail in southern Iran.

Several Iranian officials, including incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have said they welcomed conciliatory messages offered by U.S. President Barack Obama. Most added, however, they were skeptical of the latest moves from Washington, saying rhetoric of engagement was accompanied by renewed economic sanctions, Press TV reported.

Rezaei, meanwhile, has made the message of engagement a cornerstone of his campaign platform, telling supporters earlier this month talks with Washington were welcome so long as "we pursue the position of strength."

Iran is set to hold presidential elections June 12. Rezaei and Ahmadinejad lead the Principlist ticket, while former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi and former Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi lead the Reformist slate.

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