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Iranian Parliament Signals Support for Defense Minister-Designate


Iran's parliament has signaled that it supports President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's choice for defense minister - a man Argentina says was involved in the bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center.

No lawmakers opposed the nomination of Ahmad Vahidi on Tuesday, as parliament debated for a third day about Cabinet nominees.

Vahidi is wanted by the international police agency, Interpol, for alleged ties to the deadly bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Argentina 15 years ago. Eighty-five people were killed in that attack.

Parliament will vote on Mr. Ahmadinejad's Cabinet nominations Wednesday.

Vahidi has served as Iran's deputy defense minister.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said last month that it would be "disturbing" if Vahidi were confirmed as a Cabinet minister.

While Vahidi's nomination did not face opposition Tuesday, lawmakers have criticized the qualifications of some nominees for the 21-member Cabinet.

Several conservative Iranian lawmakers objected Monday to one of three female nominees put forward by President Ahmadinejad. Critics say the president is putting his own loyalists in important positions.

Education Minister-designate Sousan Keshavarz appeared in parliament to present her agenda, and some lawmakers accused her of lacking the experience needed for the job.

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

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