Powerful Iranian cleric &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2003/03/20/44670.html ' target=_blank>Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani officially confirmed today that he will stand again for president in June 17 elections, his spokesman said.
'He is a candidate and will announce the reasons for his candidacy in a public declaration' to be released later today, said &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2002/12/23/41239_.html ' target=_blank>Expediency Council spokesman Reza Soleimani.
'Finally his worries over the present situation have outweighed his doubts,' Soleimani said.
Rafsanjani, aged 70 years, is seen as a pragmatic conservative, more open to improved ties with the West and in favour of liberalising the state-dominated economy.
A number of informal opinion polls have placed him far ahead of what is expected to be a field of mostly hardline contenders.
Rafsanjani has held the Islamic republic's presidency from 1989 to 1997, and presently heads the Expediency Council - Iran's top political arbitration body, tells the Forbes.
Russia has left the list of 33 largest holders of US government bonds, after the country disposed of at least a third of remaining bonds