iran’s top nuclear negotiator resigns

iran's top nuclear negotiator resignsfrom ap: The Iranian government announced Saturday that its top nuclear negotiator had resigned, a move seen as a victory for hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that could bring about an even tougher stance in ongoing talks.

Government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham, said Saeed Jalili, a little-known deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs, was to succeed Ali Larijani as lead negotiator effective immediately.

Larijani in many cases held a hardline view on the nuclear standoff between Iran and the West but was also considered to be a more moderate figure than Ahmadinejad within Iran's hardline camp. He was seen as more committed to a diplomatic solution over Iran's nuclear program while Ahmadinejad is seen as not favoring talks with the West.

Larijani's resignation was interpreted by many here as giving Ahmadinejad a free hand in dictating his views to the less experienced Jalili.

Elham did not give a specific reason for Larijani's resignation other than to say he wanted to focus on "other political activities."

"Larijani had resigned repeatedly. Finally, the president accepted his resignation," Elham told reporters.