(Reuters) - Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, has resigned, the government said on Saturday, and the man named to replace him, Saeed Jalili, could present the West with a harder line in its row over Tehran’s atomic ambitions.
Following are some facts about Jalili:
* Born in 1965 in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, Jalili, like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a veteran of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. He has a PhD in political science.
* Jalili became director-general of the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top authority, in 2001. Then after the 2005 presidential election, he became an adviser to Ahmadinejad. The same year, he was appointed deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs.
* He traveled to Europe in recent weeks, including France and Britain, to discuss Iran’s work plan agreed in August with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and which aims to clear up outstanding questions about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The West says Iran wants atomic bombs but Tehran denies this.
* Diplomats who have met Jalili say he expresses strongly held convictions and sticks firmly to his position in discussions. One diplomat said he “specializes in monologue” rather than debate.
* Jalili told the U.S. newspaper the Boston Globe in December 2006 sanctions were hurting those imposing them more than Iran. He said Washington had to “correct its previous behavior on the nuclear issue” and not prevent Iran having peaceful nuclear technology if it wanted to end years of animosity between the two countries.
* Conservative lawmaker Ahmad Tavakoli criticized Jalili’s appointment saying he lacked Larijani’s political experience to handle negotiations. “(Larijani’s) background can in no way be compared to the position of a deputy foreign minister with little experience,” he said, Fars News Agency reported.