Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 19:40 pm (KSA) 16:40 pm (GMT)

Iran dismisses talk of FM Mottaki's resignation

Mottaki also denied the reports (File)
Mottaki also denied the reports (File)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Wednesday denied speculation Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was to become the latest casualty of growing changes to his conservative administration.

Two prominent members of the Iranian parliament said earlier that Mottaki had tendered his resignation to Ahmadinejad, less than a week after the shock replacement of chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.

"This kind of information is part of a psychological war against the government. Mr Mottaki will stay firmly in his place and is continuing his activities with pleasure," Ahmadinejad said after a cabinet meeting.

Mottaki, who took part in the cabinet meeting, also angrily denied the reports he had resigned.

"I did not resign," he declared, adding that he and ministry colleagues "were assigned by the president to seriously pursue our duties."

Earlier Kazem Jalali, the spokesman for parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, said: "Based on what we have heard, last night Mottaki presented the president with his resignation."

His comments were echoed by fellow committee member Reza Talaie Nik. The foreign ministry declined to comment.


The moderate Iranian press has been excited for weeks over the possibility of Mottaki's departure, speculating he could be replaced by Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, the senior advisor to Ahmadinejad and his right-hand man.

Larijani quit at the weekend after prolonged disagreements with Ahmadinejad over the handling of the crisis over the Iranian nuclear program, setting off frenetic speculation by observers about possible splits between Iran's leaders.

The intrigue has not died down, not least after the top foreign policy advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, said Larijani should not have quit.

Larijani also raised eyebrows himself by joining his successor Saeed Jalili -- an Ahmadinejad loyalist -- for talks on the nuclear standoff with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Tuesday.

Ahmadinejad sought to play down his differences with Larijani, saying the two were "friends" and the negotiator had sent three resignation letters already and had also asked verbally to step down many times.

"He insisted that I accepted the resignation and finally I accepted under pressure," the president said.

There has already been a serious reshuffle at the foreign ministry in recent days -- Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Mostafavi has become an advisor to Ahmadinejad and been replaced by Alireza Sheikh Attar.

Ahmadinejad, who has packed his government from the start with allies and close friends, has made a conspicuous move over the past three months to consolidate his power further.

This comes in the context of March parliamentary elections, in which reformists are hoping to launch a comeback and which could be decisive in determining the future direction of the country.

In August, the president sacked the oil and industry ministers, replacing them with more pliant candidates in a move seen by analysts as an attempt to increase his control over economic policy-making.

A month later, he also replaced the central bank governor, fuelling expectations of a greater government role in monetary policy.

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