Iranian foreign minister sacked

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 13, 2010 14:40 hrs

Tehran, Dec 13 (DPA) In a surprise move, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fired Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, state media reported Monday.

Iran's atomic chief Ali-Akbar Salehi is to act temporarily as caretaker of the foreign ministry, Fars news agency reported.

No reason was officially given for the sudden shakeup at both the foreign ministry and the atomic energy organization.

The 57-year-old Mottaki had served as Ahmadinejad's foreign minister since the president's first-time election in 2005.

Salehi became Ahmadinejad's vice president and head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization in 2009 and before that he served as Iran's envoy in the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

Mottaki had been criticized by several political circles in Iran, including in parliament, for not having sufficiently reflected the Iranian stance on international issues.

Among others, his critics said he had failed to prevent the UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programmes.

Another reason for the sudden change, some analysts in Tehran believe, was that Mottaki was a professional diplomat and therefore a technocrat who ultimately did not fit into Ahmadinejad's main criteria.

More than their qualifications, Ahmadinejad wants his ministers to be ideologically close to him, they note.

But observers believe that Salehi is also a technocrat and might, if eventually appointed as foreign minister, face the same difficulties as Mottaki.

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