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Mashaie insists on serving as Iran VP

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a controversial choice as Iran's first vice president, insisted on Thursday that he will stay on in the post despite massive opposition and defended a surprise comment on Israel.

world Updated: Jul 23, 2009 12:29 IST

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a controversial choice as Iran's first vice president, insisted on Thursday that he will stay on in the post despite massive opposition and defended a surprise comment on Israel.

Thanking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his appointment following a disputed June 12 poll, Rahim Mashaie said his selection was part of the re-elected president's attempts to speed up development activities in Iran.

"What we need in this term and what Dr Ahmadinejad is stressing ... Is to have a new atmosphere for more activities and to take things forward quickly," Rahim Mashaie said in an interview with the official IRNA news agency.

His appointment has faced stiff opposition from some of hardliner Ahmadinejad's own supporters.

Rahim Mashaie, whose daughter is married to Ahmadinejad's son, is an outspoken figure who last year earned the wrath of many, including supreme leader Ali Khamenei, for saying Iran was a "friend of the Israeli people."

"I am thankful for the trust Dr Ahmadinejad has in me. We should speed up the tasks. In the new government we can take things forward quicker with more agility and cohesiveness," he said.

Rahim Mashaie said the country's growth had to be "balanced, quick but coordinated," adding that the task ahead was "huge and tiring.