A leading Iranian reformist said he would run in next year's presidential election, challenging conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is widely expected to seek a second four-year term. Former parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karoubi, the first major political figure to declare his candidacy, said he would contest the June 2009 vote for president in the world's fourth-largest oil producer. "I announce that I'm a candidate for next year's election," the cleric told a news conference. "In my opinion, both in foreign policy and economic issues, the government of Ahmadinejad has not been successful," he said. Karoubi said earlier this year Iran should be ready for talks with its foes, particularly the United States. Washington and Tehran have not had diplomatic ties for almost three decades and are locked in conflict over Iran's nuclear program. Reformists seeking political and social change have criticized Ahmadinejad, who came to power four years ago on a pledge to revive the values of the 1979 Islamic revolution, over his failure to rein in climbing double-digit inflation. "Inflation is something people deal with from morning to night," Karoubi said. They have also questioned the president's handling of the nuclear issue, saying his fiery speeches have riled the West, which has led efforts to impose U.N. sanctions. They say more diplomacy would have been better.