- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - A hard-line candidate in Iran’s upcoming presidential election says the United States should be made to fear Iran so that it will back off on sanctions and threats.

Ebrahim Raisi told a state TV talk show Wednesday that “today Americans are afraid of the word ‘Iran,’” saying: “This is the solution. The solution is not backing down. We must force them to retreat.”

Raisi is challenging the incumbent, Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who has tried to improve relations with the West and whose government reached a landmark nuclear agreement with world powers.

Iran’s hard-liners criticized the deal, saying Rouhani gave too much away.

Rouhani is widely seen as the front-runner in next month’s election, but Raisi is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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