Iran's parliament has approved all but three of President Hassan Rouhani's 18 cabinet picks, allowing the government to start work, parliament speaker Ali Larijani said.

He announced on Thursday that the proposed ministers of education, Mohammad Ali Najafi, of science, research and technology, Jafar Mili-Monfared - both considered close to reformists - and Massoud Sontani-far, of sports and youth, were rejected.

Buy parliament approved 15 others, including those heading portfolios key to implementing his agenda to reduce the country's international isolation and improve its economy.

Among the key nominations approved by the conservative-dominated parliament were Mohammad Javad Zari as foreign minister and Bijan Zanganeh for the oil portfolio.

Voting was on a candidate-by-candidate basis and not on the cabinet as a whole. Rouhani now has three months to fill the three posts left vacant.

Rouhani, who took office on August 3, has promised to repair Iran's image abroad after eight years of confrontation under his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Western sanctions imposed over Iran's disputed nuclear programme have halved Tehran's oil exports since 2011, and its ageing oilfields need crucial maintenance.

Source: Agencies