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Hardliner in challenge for Iranian presidency

By AP Reporter

Voting has begun in Iran's first presidential election since its nuclear deal with world powers, as incumbent Hassan Rouhani faced a staunch challenge from a hardline opponent over his outreach to the wider world.

The election is largely viewed as a referendum on the 68-year-old cleric's more moderate policies, which paved the way for the nuclear accord despite opposition from hardliners.

Economic issues also will be on the minds of Iran's over 56 million eligible voters as they head to more than 63,000 polling places across the country.

The average Iranian has yet to see benefits of the deal, which saw Iran limit its contested nuclear programme in exchange for lifting some sanctions.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei symbolically cast the election's first vote and called on Iranians to turn out in huge numbers for the poll.

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