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Iran Live: Ahmadinejad "Presidential Election Will Be Political Epic"

1900 GMT: Technology Update. Tabnak, close to presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei, slammed Western news reports on Ali Razeghi, the Iranian scientist who claims to have invented a 'Time Machine'.

The Western media did not believe in the invention and "in most cases ridiculed it," Tabnak said.

Tabnak -- which publishes daily reviews of the Western press's reporting on Iran -- took particular issue with the UK's Daily Telegraph, criticizing the paper for publishing just selected quotes from an interview with Razeghi.

The UK's Independent also came under fire, with Tabnak accusing it of questioning Iranian technological advances, including its new Ghaher-313 stealth fighter jet and its sending a monkey into space.

1535 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Jamileh Karimi, a former advisor to the Governor of Fars Province and a supporter of former President Mohammad Khatami, has been arrested.

Blogger Mojtaba Daneshtalab has started a six-month prison term for insulting the Supreme Leader.

1515 GMT: Budget Watch. The Government's proposed budget for 2013/2014 has been rejected by Parliament's Reconciliation Committee.

MPs said that a new vote on the proposals is needed.

In March, facing the New Year with no measures in place, Parliament passed a three-month emergency budget.

1505 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Blogger and poet Reza Akvanian has been released on bail.

1445 GMT: Election Watch. Hassan Rohani, a member of the Expediency Council and close ally of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has formally declared his candidacy for President in June's election.

Rohani has said that he has programmes ready to deal with Iran's economic problems and --- following the line of Rafsnjani --- will improve relations with the West.

Rohani told a campaign rally, "My goals will be restoring the economy, promoting morality and relations with the world. I will build government of prudence and hope."

"Iran is in the middle of sensitive days, hard days," Rohani continued. "It is because of regional and international situations as well as sanctions."

The candidate then jabbed at the Government for causing division, "We need a new management for the country but not based on quarreling, inconsistency and eroding domestic capacity, but through unity, consensus and attracting honest and efficient people."

0855 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (US Edition). Oil Watch. India has said it will not impose restrictions on its oil imports from Iran, continuing its energy ties with Tehran as long it gets a "good deal" and logistic support.

India has significantly cut its purchases from Iran in the last year, thus avoiding US penalties. However, two Indian insurance companies General insurance Corporation RE have now agreed to provide cover to the oil imports from Iran, raising the prospect of a rise in shipments.

India had been limited in imports by last July's European Union sanctions that removed insurance from tankers carrying Iranian oil.

0655 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (US Edition). Fars News English, aimed at an overseas audience, reports comments by Presidential candidate and former Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on direct talks with the US.

Mottaki said Iran would negotiate with Washington if it ended its "pressure strategy" against the Iranian people. Currently, the US was "not qualified" for talks, Mottaki added.

0645 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. In another jab at the Supreme Leader, President Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that June's Presidential elections would "definitely be a great political epic in Iran and in the world".

Ahmadinejad's declaration was a seizure of the language of Ayatollah Khamenei, who said in his New Year speech in March that Iranians to make the upcoming 12 months a "Year of Political and Economic Epic".

Speaking at a road-opening ceremony in Tehran, Ahmadinejad used the term to boost his religous nationalism --- denounced as a "deviant current" by his critics. He said, "If the tremendous energies of the Iranian nation are poured into the discipline of management in Iran, there will be many epics in different areas."

Referring to sanctions and Iran's nuclear programme --- on which Ahmadinejad has made a number of defiant comments in past days --- the President added that the "enemy's evil schemes" would not impede the progress of the Iranian people.

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