Ahmadinejad Abruptly Fires Foreign Minister
Move illustrates internal tensions as nuclear talks loom
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 13, 2010 12:38 PM CST
In this Tuesday July, 29, 2008 file photo, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, listens to his Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, in Tehran, Iran.   (HASAN SARBAKHSHIAN)
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(Newser) – Iran's president abruptly fired his foreign minister today and named nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi as acting top diplomat. It's the latest sign of a rift at the top levels of the Islamic theocracy as the country faces intense pressure from the West over its nuclear program. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave no explanation for the change in a brief statement on his website.

But the fired diplomat, Manouchehr Mottaki, is seen as close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; some of the tensions between Mottaki and Ahmadinejad have spilled out into the public. The president may be aiming to install a figure more personally loyal to himself as Tehran resumes critical talks with world powers over the nuclear program that has brought four rounds of UN sanctions on Iran.