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Iran minister waiting Khatami reply to resignation

TEHRAN, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Iran's embattled minister of culture, accused by the conservative establishment of being too liberal, is still waiting for the president to accept his resignation, newspapers said on Thursday.

Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ataollah Mohajerani is a close ally of President Mohammad Khatami and his resignation would be a blow to the moderate president and his promised programme of reforms.

Mohajerani resubmitted his resignation earlier this month after his first, very strongly worded, letter was rejected.

"I have officially handed in my resignation," Mohajerani told the reformist daily Hambastegi. "I am waiting for a reply from the president."

Mohajerani has been under sustained attack by conservatives who accuse him with failing to stem the tide of "Westoxification" in newspapers, books and cinema.

Unconfirmed reports on Wednesday said he had withdrawn his resignation.

Reformist activists have criticised Mohajerani's resignation saying that he should resist hardliners' pressure to leave the cabinet.

"Mohajerani should stand firm," Hamshahri daily quoted reformist editor Abbas Abdi as saying. "If anyone wants him removed (from the cabinet), he should be willing to bear the costs."


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