Iran endorses 'wanted' minister

President's controversial pick for defence portfolio gets backing from legislators.

    Vahidi is wanted internationally in connection with the bombing of a Jewish centre in Argentina [AFP]

    Argentina bombing

    On July 18, 1994, a bombing at the Argentinian Jewish Mutual Association in Buenos Aires killed 87 people and injured more than 200.

    Prosecutors on the case accused Iran-backed Hezbollah of carrying out the bombing and accused senior Iranian officials of planning the attack.

    Iranian officials have strongly denied any involvement.

    Interpol issued an arrest notice for four senior Iranian officials, including Ahmad Vahidi, Ahmadinejad's defence minister-designate.

    Iran has dismissed complaints against Vahidi and has never acknowledged the existence of the Al-Quds Brigades, the force Vahidi was said to be commanding at the time of the attack.

    While Vahidi's nomination to the cabinet was accepted, legislators rejected some of his other choices, including two female nominees for the education and welfare portfolios respectively.

    But the parliament did endorse a third female candidate, Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi, a gynaecologist and obstetrician, for the position of health minister.

    Dastjerdi will be the first female minister since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

    Overall, parliament rejected three of Ahmadinejad's choices - the two female candidates and his choice for energy minister - and approved 18 others, including Massoud Mirkazemi as oil minister.

    Despite the rejection of three ministers, the cabinet can still start working and Ahmadinejad has scheduled its first meeting for Sunday, state radio said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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