Iran to replace some 60 ambassadors this year

Iran intends to replace some 60 ambassadors this year, including those in London, Paris and Berlin, as part of what the Foreign Ministry called regular rotation, the official newspaper Iran reported on Monday. The daily quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Mostafavi as saying the replacements were a "normal procedure." He seemed anxious to quash speculation that the move was a purge of the foreign ministry under hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Late last year, the administration of Ahmadinejad, which took office in August, had said it planned to change about 40 ambassadors. Mostafavi said there was nothing unusual about the appointment of new ambassadors to London, Paris and Berlin. Britain, France and Germany have played a leading role in the diplomatic moves that have led to the U.N. Security Council's giving Iran until April 28 to suspend uranium enrichment.

But the replacement of Iran's ambassadors to those countries had been mooted for several months. Under Ahmadinejad, many civil servants appointed by the government of former President Mohammad Khatami have been replaced by officials considered to be more conservative. The most notable casualty was Hasan Rowhani, who was Iran's top nuclear negotiator, reports the AP.

N.U.