Iran's foreign minister has been dismissed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shortly after the country resumed talks with the West over its nuclear program, leading Germany to urge Iran to continue in the talks.
Iran has only just resumed nuclear talks with the 5+1 group
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called on Iran to continue negotiations with world powers over its contentious nuclear activities despite the firing of his Iranian counterpart on Monday.
"We trust that the talks that have just begun in Geneva will continue and that different political line-ups will not lead to an interruption or a hesitation at those talks," Westerwelle said ahead of a regular EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.
Germany and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council resumed talks with Iran in the Swiss city last week after a 14-month hiatus. The so-called 5+1 group and Iran agreed to meet again in Istanbul in January.
Mottaki was not part of Iran's negotiating team in Geneva
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed his foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, a career diplomat in the office since August 2005.
The Iranian government offered no public explanation of the firing. While Mottaki has been staunch defender of Iran's nuclear program and Ahmadinejad, the two men reportedly had differences in policy views over the past few months.
Ahmadinejad named Ali-Akbar Salehi, Iran's nuclear energy chief, as Mottaki's interim replacement. Neither Mottaki nor Salehi was part of the Geneva negotiating team, which was headed by the head of the Supreme National Security Council, Saeid Jalili.
Iran says its nuclear enrichment program is peaceful, but the West fears it is eventually planning to build a nuclear bomb. The UN Security Council has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iran because of the enrichment.
Author: Andrew Bowen (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner