14 December 2010
Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fired his foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, and replaced him temporarily with the head of Iran’s Nuclear Energy Organization, Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi. Mottaki was on a trip to Senegal when Ahmadinejad made the surprise announcement. The president gave no reason for the sacking. It is thought Mottaki was a victim of a power struggle within the ruling conservative faction of the Iranian regime as the career diplomat was regarded by many as too ready to engage with western countries, despite his own abrasive manner.
Mottaki had already been sidelined from the nuclear talks – which have been conducted on the Iranian side by Salehi – and he had publicly argued with Ahmadinejad. On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry in Tehran said the change of minister would not mean a change of policy regarding the nuclear program or relations with other countries. "Iran's major policies in the international scene are adopted at higher levels and the foreign policy system executes these policies,” a government spokesman was quoted as saying.
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