Tehran: Iran`s president has promoted a controversial aide to a high-profile post in a move widely viewed as an attempt to boost the adviser`s profile ahead of his expected candidacy in next year`s presidential elections.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday appointed Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei the head of the secretariat of the Non-Aligned Movement, the bloc of developing nations Iran currently heads.
The post gives Mashaei much-needed international experience.
Ahmadinejad cannot run in Iran`s presidential elections in June because of term limits, and he is widely believed to be grooming Mashaei as his successor.
The move is seen as a challenge to Iran`s powerful hardliners, who denounce Mashaei as the head of a "deviant current" that they say seeks to undermine the country`s ruling Islamic system.