Iran's Foreign Minister Sacked
Iran's president has fired Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in part of a perceived power struggle in Tehran.
Initial reports gave no reason for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's decision.
There had been no indication that Mr Mottaki, a key figure in Iran's nuclear negotiations with the West, was about to lose his job.
Mr Ahmadinejad has appointed the country's top nuclear official, Ali Akbar Salehi, to replace Mr Mottaki in a caretaker capacity.
"I appreciate your diligence and services as the foreign minister," said Mr Ahmadinejad in a letter to Mr Mottaki, Mehr news agency reported.
Mr Mottaki, who is currently in Senegal on an official visit, was appointed foreign minister in 2005.
Analysts say Mr Mottaki's dismissal may be part of a political power play between conservatives and liberals in Iran.
There has been mutual distrust between the president and Mr Mottaki since the 2005 election that brought Mr Ahmadinejad to power: Mr Mottaki was the campaign manager for one of Mr Ahmadinejad's rivals, Ali Larijani.
Mr Mottaki and Mr Larijani are often described as part of a pragmatic conservative bloc that believes the president's inflammatory speeches and radical agenda have made Iran more vulnerable.
Relations worsened when Mr Ahmadinejad's plans for presidential envoys stationed abroad were vetoed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei over the foreign ministry's concerns it would create a parallel diplomatic service.
Mr Mottaki had faced criticism in Iran over the international pressure on the country to halt its nuclear enrichment programme.