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Iran Says No Changes From Foreign Minister's Ouster

VOA News
14 December 2010

Iran says there will be no changes in its nuclear and foreign policies, following the firing of Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast made the comment Tuesday, a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ousted Mottaki and named nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi as acting foreign minister.

Mr. Ahmadinejad gave no reason for the change. However, the Iranian Student's News Agency quotes Mehmanparast as saying Foreign Ministry changes are a "natural phenomenon."

Mottaki was on an official trip to Senegal Monday and had no immediate reaction. It is not clear whether Salehi will serve simultaneously as foreign minister and atomic energy chief.

The announcement comes as Iran prepares for nuclear talks in January with representatives of the five permanent U.N. Security Council and Germany, a group known as the P5 + 1. The session will be a follow-up to talks in Geneva earlier this month.

Many Western countries believe Iran intends to use its uranium enrichment program to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge.

Manouchehr Mottaki had worked as the country's foreign minister since Mr. Ahmadinejad's election in 2005. His firing is seen by many experts as an indication of the power struggle between Mr. Ahmadinejad and a faction of moderate politicians in Iran's parliament headed by the speaker, Ali Larijani. Salehi is a close ally of the president.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.



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