(Reuters) - Saeed Jalili, Iran’s new chief nuclear negotiator, holds talks in Rome on Tuesday over an atomic dispute with the West, the first chance for Western diplomats to see if his appointment signals a hardening of Tehran’s position.
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 was wounded during the fighting and walks with a limp.
* He holds a PhD in political science, entitled “Paradigm of Political Thought of Islam in the Holy Koran”, and has written a book called “Foreign policy of (the) Prophet of Islam”, his official curriculum vitae says.
* Jalili became director-general of the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top authority, in 2001. 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 nuclear plans. In the past, he accompanied Ali Larijani, whom he replaced, and the negotiating team to talks to defuse the atomic row with the West, which fears Iran wants a bomb despite Tehran’s denials.
* Diplomats who met Jalili when he was a deputy foreign minister say he tended to express strongly held views and stick firmly to his position. One diplomat said he “specializes in monologue” rather than debate.
* Jalili’s Iranian critics say he lacks sufficient political experience to become secretary of Supreme National Security Council, which helps formulate policy. They say it was an unprecedented move to make him secretary when he was not previously a member of the council.