Charm and Defiance

Former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani met with TIME's Scott MacLeod and Nahid Siamdoust to discuss the U.S., Rafsanjani's presidential campaign and Iran's nukes. Excerpts:

TIME When you announced your candidacy, you said you had doubts about Iran's future. What did you mean?

RAFSANJANI We don't want to give the playing ground to the extremist elements. Those who persuaded me believed that a moderating current in charge in the country could improve our relations with the world. I believed in their logic.

TIME Many Iranians criticize you for not standing up with a louder voice for democracy in Iran. Are you in favor of democracy in Iran?

RAFSANJANI I certainly believe in democracy, but I believe we have to take this course step by step. But...

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