- Associated Press - Saturday, May 20, 2017

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The Latest on Iran’s presidential election (all times local):

5:10 p.m.

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Norway’s foreign minister is welcoming the re-election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Borge Brende says he echoes the sentiment of Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who said Rouhani’s re-election sends a message that Iran could be serious about instituting reforms.

Rouhani won by a wide margin, giving the moderate cleric a second four-year term to see out his agenda pushing for greater freedoms and outreach to the wider world.

The 68-year-old incumbent secured a commanding lead of 57 percent in a race that drew more than seven out of every 10 voters to the polls.

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5 p.m.

Syrian President Bashar Assad is one of the first world leaders to congratulate President Rouhani on his re-election. Assad’s government is strongly backed by Tehran.

A statement released by Assad’s office said the Syrian president has sent a letter to Rouhani congratulating him on the “confidence that the Iranian people gave to him to go forward in boosting Iran’s status in the region and the world.”

Assad said Syria would continue to work and cooperate with the Islamic Republic of Iran “in what boosts security and stability in the two countries, the region and the world.”

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3:45 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a congratulatory message to Hassan Rouhani after his re-election as President of Iran.

A statement on Kremlin website Saturday did not give the text of the message, but said Putin “confirmed his readiness to continue active joint work on the further development of Russian-Iranian partnership cooperation both on the bilateral and international agenda.”

Russia is a key ally for Iran, with Russia supplying Tehran with weapons including the S-300 mobile long-range missile system. Russian engineers last year began expanding Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant.

In addition, Russia and Iran are two of the three so-called guarantors of an initiative to establish “safe zones” in Syria.

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2:50 p.m.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has won re-election by a wide margin, giving the moderate cleric a second four-year term to see out his agenda pushing for greater freedoms and outreach to the wider world.

The 68-year-old incumbent secured a commanding lead of 57 percent in a race that drew more than seven out of every 10 voters to the polls. Rouhani’s nearest rival in the four-man race, hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi, secured 38 percent of the vote.

More than 99 percent of the ballots have been counted.

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1:10 p.m.

Iran’s state television has declared incumbent President Hassan Rouhani the winner of the country’s presidential election, giving him a second four-year term to see out his agenda calling for greater freedoms and outreach to the wider world.

State TV offered its congratulations in a brief statement Saturday, based on vote tallies.

The 68-year-old has come to embody more liberal and reform-minded Iranians’ hopes for greater political freedom at home and better relations with the outside world.

Preliminary vote tallies earlier had Rouhani ahead with 22.8 million votes, out of 38.9 million counted so far. Officials say more than 40 million people voted.

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9 a.m.

Iran says incumbent President Hassan Rouhani is ahead of his nearest competitor in an initial count of votes in the election.

Interior Ministry deputy minister Ali Asghar Ahmadi told journalists in a televised news conference Saturday morning that over 40 million Iranians voted in Friday’s election. That puts turnout above 70 percent.

Ahmadi says the initial vote count has the moderate cleric Rouhani with 14.6 million votes. Hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi has 10.1 million votes.

Ahmadi says the Interior Ministry hopes to have final results later Saturday.

The Islamic Republic’s first presidential election since the 2015 nuclear accord drew surprisingly large numbers of voters to polling stations, with some reporting waiting in line for hours to cast their votes. Election officials extended voting hours at least three times.

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