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Iran's top clergy back President Rouhani's softer nuclear approach

Published on Feb 2, 2014 12:51 AM

DUBAI (REUTERS) - President Hassan Rouhani has secured the backing of senior conservative clerics against hardliners opposed to a nuclear deal reached with major powers, Iran's official news agency Irna said on Saturday.

His first vice-president, Mr Eshaq Jahangiri, visited clerics in the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Qom to explain the deal and seek their blessing over "complex foreign policy issues" ahead of talks next month on a long-term accord, Irna said.

An interim deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany was reached in November in Geneva, aimed at persuading Iran to curb parts of its nuclear work, in return for a limited easing of sanctions.

Hardline clerics close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Revolutionary Guards commanders and the intelligence services have attacked the temporary concessions Mr Rouhani has made, although Mr Khamenei has so far backed the president. Mr Khamenei has the final say on all state matters, including the nuclear issue.

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