TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's influential former president has expressed a softer stance toward the country's archenemy Israel in sharp contrast to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad' typical anti-Israel remarks.
Several Iranian newspapers, including the pro-reform Shargh daily, on Monday quoted Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as saying: "We are not at war with Israel."
The remark is seen as part of growing calls by high-profile Iranian politicians, including potential presidential candidates, to repair Iran's image abroad. Ahmadinejad's comment in 2005 that Israel should be destroyed prompted an international outcry.
Last week, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf — Tehran mayor who is considered a potential candidate in the June presidential election — said the president's anti-Jewish remarks have damaged Iran.
Rafsanjani has not said whether he plans to run in the election.