Tehran (Iran), Dec 14(ANI): Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fired Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at a key moment in the country's nuclear talks with the West.
It comes just days after Iran held crunch talks in Geneva on December 6 and 7 with world powers over its controversial nuclear dossier. Further talks are scheduled for next month in Turkey.
In a letter issued on Monday, Ahmadinejad expressed gratitude to Mottaki for his years of service as the Foreign Minister.
"Hereby, I thank you for your services as efforts during your tenure in the Foreign Ministry," the New York Times, quoted the letter, as saying.
No reasons were given for the surprise move, which seemed to represent a victory for Ahmadinejad, who has been embroiled in a power struggle with a faction of moderate politicians centered in the Parliament and headed by the speaker, Ari Larijani.
Political insiders said that after the 2005 election, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had forced the newly elected Ahmadinejad to accept Mottaki as foreign minister, even though Mottaki had backed Larijani's presidential campaign.
They said that Khamenei had until now blocked the president's efforts to replace Mottaki.
Ahmadinejad also said that Mottaki would be replaced for the time being by Ali Akbar Salehi, a vice-president and head of Iran's nuclear programme.
Mottaki, who was on an official visit to Senegal, did not immediately react to the news.
Experts believe that Mottaki's firing could be related to the recent release of classified United States diplomatic cables by whistleblower website WikiLeaks, which made clear that many of Iran's Arab neighbors remain deeply hostile to it.
"Clearly, Iranian foreign policy has failed here and someone needed to pay the price for it," said Trita Parsi, an Iran expert and founder of the National Iranian American Council in Washington. (ANI)