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Iran president takes over oil ministry temporarily


TEHRAN (AFP) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he has temporarily assumed the duties of the oil ministry, as the oil cartel OPEC prepares for a biannual meeting in Vienna.

"For now, I myself am the caretaker of the oil ministry," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech late Sunday, without elaborating.

On Saturday, Ahmadinejad dismissed oil minister Masoud Mirkazemi, alongside two other ministers, whose portfolios are expected to be merged with other departments as part of a cabinet streamlining.

Then on Sunday, he appointed caretakers for the industry and social affairs ministries, but did not name anyone for the oil ministry which is to be integrated with the energy portfolio.

His decision to take charge of Iran's most-strategic sector came shortly before the 159th OPEC meeting scheduled for June 8 in Vienna, where the oil producers are represented by their ministers.

Mohammad Ali Khatibi, Iran's representative to OPEC, told AFP on Monday that the president would be eligible to chair the meeting.

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