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AHMADINEJAD FIRES FOREIGN MINISTER: Replaces with Iran’s nuclear chief

“President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired Iran’s foreign minister on Monday, a move that caught many here by surprise and appeared to reflect a strengthening of the president’s power, reports the New York Times. “Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a presidential order that he had dismissed the minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, a career diplomat who has for many years been Iran’s face to the West. Mr. Mottaki was on an official trip to Senegal on Monday and did not immediately react to the news, which appeared to catch even the state-run Iranian news media by surprise….[Some experts] said the move signaled the rising prominence of nuclear matters in Iran’s foreign policy. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s choice for acting foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, is the head of Iran’s nuclear program and has also served as ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog. Mr. Salehi, who is fluent in English, graduated from the American University in Beirut and earned a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With a new round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program scheduled for January and the prospect of new Western sanctions looming, it was not immediately evident how the new appointment would affect Iran’s posture in negotiations over its nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Tehran says it is for peaceful purposes only. It is possible that Mr. Salehi is only a fill-in. Some Iran observers speculated that Mr. Ahmadinejad might try to replace him with a permanent candidate from his inner circle.”

and into His family.

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