Thursday, May 20, 2004

A podiatrist who left Iraq 30 years ago said he is closing his Naples practice and returning to his native country to run for the presidency in 2005.

Rasool Sharif, 58, said he has traveled to Iraq twice in the last two months. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most respected Shiite cleric, recently asked him to return for more meetings, Sharif said.

"I was the only American who has met with him," said Sharif, who opened the Foot & Ankle Clinic in Naples two years ago.

Sharif said he is being recruited by the National Alliance of a United Iraq, which he described as a nonpolitical group of Iraqi professionals interested in the country's future.

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