TEHRAN - Iran's top authority called on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday to dismiss a senior official who had said Iran was friendly with everyone, even the people of its sworn foe Israel, state television reported.
The appointment of ... Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as vice president is against your interest and the interests of the government and will cause division among your supporters, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a letter, cited by state television.
It is necessary to announce the cancellation of this appointment, Ayatollah Khamenei added.
Despite increased pressure, Ahmadinejad has shown no sign of backing down over his appointment of Mashaie as first vice president, whom he has praised as modest and loyal to the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Ahmadinejad came under fire from several leading hardliners after appointing Mashaie his first vice-president on July 16.
Analysts have said that the decision by Ahmadinejad to appoint Mashaie, to whom he is related by marriage, suggested the president had only a small entourage of people he trusted.
Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a June 12 presidential vote, which stirred the largest display of internal unrest in Iran, the world's fifth biggest oil exporter, since the 1979 Islamic revolution and exposed deep rifts in its ruling elite.
Mashaie's remarks on Israel in 2008 created a storm at home, but Ahmadinejad has remained defiant, saying Mashaie's remarks had been misrepresented.
Mashaie also came under fire for hosting a ceremony in November where women in traditional dress carried in Muslim's holy book, the Koran, to music, an action deemed insulting to Koran.
(Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian; Editing by Richard Balmforth)