Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday defended his government's foreign and domestic policies in a TV debate with presidential hopeful -- former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Xinhua reported.
"During this four years, great dignity has been established in both outside and inside Iran," Ahamdinejad said at the beginning of the debate broadcasted live by the state-run television.
"The Iranian nation has made itself an adorable image in the international community," he said.
Ahmadinejad has been criticized by reformists and some conservatives for the country's soaring inflation and social problems such as high unemployment rate and housing shortage.
He has also been confronted with sharp criticism towards his hardline approaches which resulted in Iran's gloomy image.
"The social problems are not formed in just four years," he said, adding that unemployment and economic problems are not new issues in his government.
Mousavi, who is considered as the incumbent president's main challenger in the upcoming June 12 election, accused the Ahmadinejad government of undermining the dignity of the Iranian nation.
"It has created heavy damages on us," Mousavi said, "the tensions between Iran and other countries are increasing ... is it in our interests?"
"The mismanagement of the country forced me to come to the stage," he said, adding that Iran must change its foreign policies from the way of adventurism, instability, exhibitionism and extremism to the way of moderation.
Mousavi served as prime minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989. He has called for freedom and fairness in the upcoming presidential election in his election campaign and has expressed dissatisfaction with Iran's media in campaign activities.
Reformist former Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi and conservative former Revolutionary Guards Chief Mohsen Rezaei on Tuesday began the country's unprecedented face-to-face TV debate series among presidential candidates.