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Iranian Presidential Candidates Attend 2nd Live Televised Debate

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TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The six Iranian candidates who are running for president held the second round of nationally televised debates on Friday.

Like the first debate, the second round of the live debate saw moments of serious debates between Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri and incumbent president Hassan Rouhani.

The candidates have been singled out by the Guardian Council from among more than 1,600 applicants seeking the presidency.

Three of the candidates categorized as “reformists” include President Hassan Rouhani, First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, and Mostafa Hashemitaba.

The other three, known as belonging to the “principlist” political faction, include Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, the chief custodian of the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (AS) in the northeastern city of Mashhad, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, and Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim.

Given equal time to speak, each of the six candidates expounded on their plans during the debate for dealing with the country’s major cultural and political agenda, including domestic and foreign policies, after taking the office.

As in the previous round, every candidate had four minutes to outline his plans, while the other five men have two minutes each to comment on the presentation. Then the candidate had five minutes to comment on other candidates' criticism.

Overall, each of the candidates has been allocated over 1,100 minutes to talk about their campaign pledges in various radio and television programs aired by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

Part of the Friday debate focused on the candidates’ stances on a deal reached between Iran and six world powers in July 2015. All of the Iranian presidential candidates pledged that if they win the presidency, their administrations would remain committed to the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Answering a question about the deal, Raisi said that all parties of the deal should respect the JCPOA.

The candidate, however, criticized the government for sending signals of weakness during negotiations. He further said President Rouhani wrongly pledged the removal of all anti-Iran sanctions after the implementation of the deal since the JCPOA has until now failed to end Iran’s economic recession and remove all banking sanctions.

Tehran mayor Qalibaf for his part said his administration would remain committed to the JCPOA, but at the same time noted that the deal has failed either resolve Iran’s economic problems or improve people’s livelihood.

Aqa-Mirsalim said the nuclear agreement demonstrated the fact that unlike the claims made by the country’s enemies the Islamic Republic of Iran is against the nuclear arms and does not seek to develop such weapons.

The incumbent president defended his government’s record in reaching the nuclear deal with six world powers, and reiterated his previous remarks that the deal has removed all nuclear-related sanctions.

Eshaq Jahangiri, Rouhani’s first vice-president, also defended the deal and noted that it was one of the greatest achievements in Iran’s history.

As regards the issue of foreign policy, Jahangiri underscored the necessity for using public diplomacy at the international level, adding that tourism, arts, sports are major fields for global interaction.

Raisi, for his part, said he attaches great importance to strong economic diplomacy in its relations with other countries.

Qalibaf, too, said the country must use all forms of diplomacy in its interactions with others countries of the world. He again pledged to set up a ministry of foreign affairs and international trade if he assumes office, saying the time has come for foreign policy to serve the country’s economic interests in the international arena.

The presidential election will be held on May 19.

During the previous polls in June 2013, Rouhani garnered 50.7 percent of a total of over 36 million votes.

The number of eligible voters in the upcoming election is estimated to be around 1.5 million higher than the 50.5 million in the previous round.

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