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24 10 2007 - Ahmadinejad cuts short Armenia visit due to ”unexpected developments”
Posted: 23-10-2007 , 14:15 GMT
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cut short a two-day visit to Armenia to return home Tuesday, an Armenian spokesman said. It was not known if the interruption of the visit was linked to the controversy for Ahmadinejad's decision to replace the top nuclear negotiator.

According to the AP, Ahmadinejad may have sought to avoid angering Turkey by visiting a genocide memorial in Armenia. The Iranian president told Armenian President Robert Kocharian late Monday that he needed to skip Tuesday's planned events because of unexpected developments in Iran that needed immediate attention, Armenian presidential spokesman Viktor Sogomonian said.

Landing in Tehran on Tuesday, Ahmadinejad insisted the trip was not cut short, saying it had been scheduled to last 22 hours and in fact went 90 minutes over. He called the visit "good."

While the president was in Armenia a day earlier, he was facing increasing criticism at home over the surprise resignation of top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who was replaced by a close Ahmadinejad loyalist. The resignation over the weekend has been widely interpreted as a victory for Ahmadinejad because it could lead Iran to take an even tougher stance in ongoing nuclear talks with the West. Larijani was considered more moderate than Ahmadinejad within Iran's hardline camp, and the two men had previously clashed on how to approach the talks.

On Monday, 183 lawmakers, most of them conservatives, passed a measure hailing Larijani's performance as nuclear negotiator. A parliamentary group wrote a letter of complaint to Ahmadinejad for failing to inform them of the resignation in advance or consult with them on Larijani's successor.

Annette Melikian

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