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Former Iranian president Rafsanjani dead: Agencies

Death marks the loss of a major reformist figurehead in the Islamic Republic
Rafsanjani was 82 (AFP)

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died in hospital in Tehran where he was taken after suffering a heart attack on Sunday, state media reported.

State run Press TV said Rafsanjani, 82, died from a heart attack despite efforts by doctors to save him.

Rafsanjani was an influential figure in Iran, and headed the Expediency Council, a body which is intended to resolve disputes between the parliament and the Guardian Council.

Tasnim news agency also quoted his relative and aide Hossein Marashi as saying that Hasehmi had died at the hospital in Tehran.

Rafsanjani served as president twice between 1989 and 1997.

He was badly beaten in the 2005 presidential election by hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a conservative backlash.

But rather than retreating from public view because of that humiliation, he remained in the limelight, emerging as a moderate counter-figure to the ultra-hardliners clustered around Ahmadinejad, under whom Iran's relations with the West plummeted.

In recent years, his influence within state institutions had waned.

In 2013, his candidacy for the presidential election was rejected because of his advanced age.

The next year, he delivered crucial support for the eventual winner, Hassan Rouhani, a moderate with whom he had a warm rapport.