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Iranian President Denies Rift with Supreme Leader

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is denying he has any rift with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, days after their public dispute over the dismissal of the vice president.

In a speech Friday, Mr. Ahmadinejad likened their relationship to the ties between father and son.

With protesters continuing to question the legitimacy of Mr. Ahmadinejad's re-election, the conservative president has also faced criticism from his hard-line supporters.

Those critics cast doubt on his loyalty to the supreme leader after Khamenei ordered the dismissal of the first vice president, but Mr. Ahmadinejad delayed carrying out the order.

The vice president provoked controversy last year for saying Iran was a friend of the Israeli people. After Mr. Ahmadinejad dismissed him from the vice presidency, he appointed him as the president's chief of staff.

On Thursday, thousands of protesters defied government orders to publicly mourn those killed in post-election violence.

Police used batons and tear gas to disperse at least 2,000 people near the Grand Mosalla, an open-air prayer venue in central Tehran.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's political opponents and some of his conservative supporters have denounced the treatment of jailed protesters, several of whom have died in custody.

On Thursday, the reformist former president Mohammad Khatami denounced the treatment, saying crimes had been committed against those in detention.

There has been little information about the hundreds of people believed to have been rounded up by Iranian security forces from protest rallies. Media reports quoting released prisoners say guards have beaten some detainees to death, torn off the fingernails of others and held many in poor conditions.

Thursday's demonstrations marked the 40th day since the death of a young Iranian woman named Neda Agha-Soltan. Her name has become a rallying cry for reformist demonstrators since a graphic video posted on the Internet showed her dying after she was shot during a post-election protest in Tehran on June 20.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.