Iran appoints new nuclear negotiator after Larijani resigns


Tehran : Iran has appointed a new chief nuclear negotiator after earlier incumbent Ali Larijani, who was in the public eye internationally due to the country’s controversial nuclear programme, resigned from his post, Tehran announced Saturday.

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Government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham said that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has appointed Saeed Jalili, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs, as Larijani’s successor. “Saeed Jalili will take his place,” Xinhua quoted Elham as saying.

Elham had said earlier that the president accepted Larijani’s resignation, according to the Iranian news agency IRNA.

“Larijani had resigned several times and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad finally accepted his resignation,” Elham said. However, no reason was given for Larijani’s resignation.

The development came three days before the next scheduled round of talks between Iran and the European Union, set for Oct 23. Tehran had said Wednesday that Larijani was to meet EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana either in Vienna or Rome on that day.

However, according to Elham, now Jalili will meet European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Rome Tuesday.

In Vienna, officials at the IAEA said the organisation had not yet heard of the development, but the IAEA was unlikely to issue an official comment on the resignation of a government official, DPA said.

Larijani was appointed the chief of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council in Aug 2005, after Ahmadinejad took office.

Larijani was believed to be close to Iran’s religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and was considered to be an uncompromising official on negotiations with the West over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.

Iran has been accused by the US and other Western nations of developing nuclear weapon programme under the guise of a civilian-usage. Iran has insisted that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes and voiced hope for talks to defuse the nuclear standoff.