File - In this Friday, April 14, 2017 file photo, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani smiles as he attends at the Interior Ministry to register his candidacy for the May 19 presidential elections, in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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Campaigning officially started Friday for Iran's May presidential election, pitting pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani against hard-liners just as the United States reassesses its policy on the Islamic Republic.A hard-line watchdog body in charge of vetting candidates and laws, the Guardian Council, approved six candidates Thursday for the May 19 vote – including Rouhani – but hard-line former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was disqualified. Ahmadinejad, an adversary of the West during his time in power, surprised Iran's religious establishment by registering as a candidate, defying Iran's top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's warning not to enter the race.The four other candidates are Iran's first Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, former conservative Culture Minister Mostafa Mirsalim, former pro-reform Vice President Mostafa Hashemitaba and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf.
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