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Ahmadinejad Convenes First Meeting Of New Cabinet

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in parliament during debate last week over his ministerial appointments
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- President Mahmud Ahmadinejad held the first meeting of his new government on September 6, shoring up his political position despite accusations by a leading reformer of a "fascist" approach by Iranian hard-liners.

Ahmadinejad, holding the meeting after nearly three months of political turmoil following his disputed reelection, said the government was determined to improve services to the public, state television said.

Earlier the same day, hard-hitting criticism of hard-liners by former President Mohammad Khatami suggested the moderate opposition would try to keep up protests over an election it says was rigged.

The presidential poll, which was followed by huge opposition demonstrations, plunged Iran into its deepest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution and exposed rifts within its ruling clerical and political elites.

The authorities reject charges the vote was fraudulent.

Parliament approved most of Ahmadinejad's government ministers last week, followed up by the meeting late on September 6 in the northeastern city of Mashhad, site of Shi'ite Iran's holiest shrine.

Authorities have portrayed the protests as a Western-backed bid to undermine the Islamic state and have begun mass trials of senior reformists, including Khatami allies.