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Iran's Ahmadinejad Under Pressure to Dismiss First VP


Iranian media report that Iran's supreme leader has told President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to dismiss his chosen top deputy, after the selection angered conservative Iranians.

Semi-official news agencies in Iran quote the deputy speaker of the parliament Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard as saying Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sent Mr. Ahmadinejad a letter calling for the removal of the first vice president.

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie has been sharply criticized for stating last year that Iran is a friend of all people in the world, including Israelis. Iran does not recognize Israel.

To this point, Mr. Ahmadinejad has refused to back down on his selection of Mashaie, despite pressure to do so.

Leading conservative Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami also has called on Mr. Ahmadinejad to reconsider Mashaie's appointment, saying it defies the president's constituency.

Mashaie and Ahmadinejad have family ties. Mashaie's daughter is married to Mr. Ahmadinejad's son.

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

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