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Iran installs acting foreign minister after Mottaki ouster

By the CNN Wire Staff
Ali-Akbar Salehi was installed Saturday as Iran's acting foreign minister.
Ali-Akbar Salehi was installed Saturday as Iran's acting foreign minister.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ali-Akbar Salehi installed as acting Iranian foreign minister
  • Mottaki was absent from the inauguration ceremony
  • The move strengthens Ahmadinejad's hand in external affairs
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(CNN) -- Iran's nuclear chief was installed as the country's acting foreign minister on Saturday after the country's longtime top diplomat was ousted in a power play.

Ali-Akbar Salehi was inaugurated in a Foreign Ministry office ceremony five days after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's abrupt dismissal of his predecessor, Manouchehr Mottaki.

Mottaki's removal took place while he was on an official visit to the West African nation of Senegal.

Rumors of his impending ouster had been circulating for more than two years. After the United Nations imposed a fourth round of sanctions in June, conservatives stepped up their calls for Mottaki's removal.

Scott Peterson, author of the recently published "Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran - A Journey Behind the Headlines," said earlier this week that Mottaki's ouster will enable Ahmadinejad to strengthen his influence on external affairs where Mottaki had been seen as challenging him.

The ceremony was attended by first Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi and other Foreign Ministry officials. Mottaki was absent.

Salehi, who also serves as a vice president, is a former ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been attempting to monitor the nation's nuclear program.

Salehi's replacement as nuclear chief is expected to be Mohammad Ghanadi Maraghei, according to the semi-official Islamic Republic News Agency. Maraghei is currently head of the nation's Nuclear Science and Technology Unit.

Salehi was educated at the American University of Beirut and received a doctorate in technical sciences in the United States in 1977, according to Islamic Republic News Agency.

He served as an associate professor and chancellor of Sharif University of Technology as well as head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.