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Profile: Ali Larijani

Dr Larijani (right) is Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator
Dr Ali Larijani (r) is a close follower of Ayatollah Khamenei

As the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council until his recent resignation, Ali Larijani was the main negotiator on major foreign policy issues such as talks on Iran's nuclear programme.

He is a conservative and is a close follower of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who appointed him to the security council in 2004 for a three-year term.

In 2005 he was appointed the council's head by the new President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who won an election in which Mr Larijani was also a candidate.

But his openness towards negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme put him at odds with the president.

Ayatollah Khamenei had previously appointed Mr Larijani to head Iranian state radio and TV in 1994 - a post he held for 10 years.

Before that, Mr Larijani served in President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani's government as Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

His appointment to head the security council, replacing moderate, pragmatic cleric Hassan Rouhani, was seen by analysts as a signal that Iran was preparing to harden its stance on the nuclear issue.

Morality

As radio and TV chief Mr Larijani tried to curb foreign cultural influence over young Iranians by cutting imported programmes from schedules.

In January 2004 this led some 150 reformist MPs to criticise IRIB for causing Iranians to turn to the foreign media.

If reforms are not undertaken for the sake of religion, justice and morality, they do not constitute reforms
Ali Larijani

The deputies also complained at what they saw as IRIB's pro-conservative bias in the run-up to the elections. Larijani responded saying that deputies' protests only played into the hands of foreigners.

Even the president's office has criticised the state broadcaster for censoring presidential statements.

One complaint came after President Khatami and Majlis speaker Mehdi Karrubi described a move by the Guardian Council to ban reformists from the February 2004 elections as "unworthy". This did not get a mention.

Mr Larijani in turn has accused reformists of undermining Islamic values.

"If reforms are not undertaken for the sake of religion, justice and morality, they do not constitute reforms," he said, according to the Tose'eh daily.

And he has blamed reformists for corruption and neglect of the economy.

"You cannot create reforms with hungry people," he said, quoted by Tose'eh. "Some 75% of the Iranian people's demands are economic... and only 5% cultural and political."

Defending the Islamic focus of his programmes, he says this complies with "the policies and directions of the supreme leader".

His efforts to promote Islamic broadcasting are exemplified by the setting up, in 2003, of two Arabic-language TV stations, al-Alam and Sahar, and a 24-hour external radio network. The stations have proved popular in Iraq.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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