UPDATE 3-Military officer becomes Iran's new oil minister

Wed Aug 3, 2011 8:21pm GMT
 

TEHRAN Aug 3 (Reuters) - * Revolutionary Guards commander under U.S. and EU sanctions

* Lawmaker voices concern on Guards' expanding influence

* Vote signals lull in hostilities between parliament, Ahmadinejad

(Adds Ahmadinejad quote)

By Robin Pomeroy and Ramin Mostafavi

TEHRAN, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Iran's parliament approved President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's candidate as oil minister on Wednesday, putting a military commander who is under U.S. and EU sanctions in charge of oil and gas in one of the world's biggest crude producers.

A majority of lawmakers -- 216 of the 246 present -- voted for Rostam Qasemi, a Revolutionary Guards commander who headed its construction and engineering company, sending a defiant message to Iran's foes.

The vote also signalled an easing of parliament's hostility towards Ahmadinejad after months of accusing him of a power grab before a parliamentary election in March.

But critics said it would boost concern about the increasing influence of the Revolutionary Guards, an elite military force which has expanded its economic activities in recent years.   Continued...

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