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Iran's Parliament Backs Nuclear Chief As Next Foreign Minister

Ali Akbar Salehi previously headed Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.
Iran's parliament has officially endorsed the country's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, as the next foreign minister.

Salehi's candidacy was backed by 146 of the 241 Iranian lawmakers who voted in the conservative-dominated parliament today.

Speaking before the vote, Salehi told lawmakers the dispute with the international community over Tehran's controversial nuclear program was "one of the important agendas of the foreign policy."

The West fears Iran is trying to secretly build nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program. Tehran denies the charges.

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad introduced Salehi to parliament before the vote, saying Iran needed a "foreign policy that is utterly transparent, active, powerful, and influential."

Ahmadinejad appointed Salehi on December 13 as caretaker foreign minister after he sacked Manuchehr Mottaki, who had been foreign minister for more than five years.

Salehi previously headed Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.

compiled from agency reports