Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Speaks Out Against Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei for Voicing Moderate Stance Toward Israel

A top aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who had voiced a moderate stance toward Israel came under heavy pressure to resign Sunday as government-controlled news outlets issued conflicting reports about whether he had already left his post.

On Sunday, the Pana news agency, funded by the Education Ministry, said that Mashaei had tendered his resignation in a letter to the president, the contents of which would be published soon. The state-owned Press TV network also reported that he had quit.

However, in a statement posted on his personal website, Mashaei rejected the reports [that he was quit] as “lies”.

“This news is nothing more than rumors and lies, and this rumor was made up and spread by the enemies of the supreme leader and the state,” said Mashaei.

A senior Iranian cleric has urged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to take the Leader's advice to remove his recently appointed vice president.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami, Tehran's interim Friday prayers leader said President Ahmadinejad's decision on Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei is a test of his loyalty to the Leader.