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Monday, October 16, 2006

Report: Khamenei seeks to regain control

LONDON, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seems to be trying to gain control from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is emerging as his rival, says a report.

As part of that effort, Khamenei has ordered the creation of a foreign policy council that would be solely responsible to the ruling cleric, reports the Middle East Newsline. Khamenei said the Strategic Council for Foreign Relations is meant to facilitate decisions on foreign policy, the report said.

"It's the first time Khamenei has asserted control since Ahmadinejad took over the presidency," a Western intelligence analyst was quoted as saying. "Until now, Khamenei has taken a back seat to Ahmadinejad."

Some analysts told the MENL the new council could become Khamenei's back channel to the United States, which is leading other Western nations to have Iran end its uranium enrichment program. But Ahmadinejad, who is supported by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has refused to consider any such suspension, claiming the program is only meant for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
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