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Iranian First VP Resigns After Call for His Dismissal

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's pick for first vice president has resigned from the post, following a demand from Iran's supreme leader for his dismissal.

Iran's state news agency, IRNA, quotes a top aide to Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi, as saying Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie no longer regards himself as first vice president.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (right) and Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaii

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

Earlier Friday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered President Ahmadinejad to dismiss Mashaie.

Iranian state television cited a letter in which Khamenei told the president the appointment of Mashaie is "against your interest and the interests of the government and will cause division among your supporters."

During Friday prayers, hardline Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami urged Mr. Ahmadinejad to abide by the supreme leader's wish.

Khatami warned the Iranian president the legitimacy of his government would be undermined if he continued to defy calls for the dismissal of Mashaie.

The hardline cleric also told worshippers the foundation and legitimacy of an Islamic society depends on accepting the viewpoint of Iran's supreme leader.

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

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

... Payvand News - 07/25/09 ... --

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