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Ahmadinejad defends proposed cabinet ministers amid skepticism

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended his proposed cabinet ministers Sunday as lawmakers began what is expected to be a fierce debate over whether the nominees have the relevant credentials or are simply unquestioning loyalists. Reformist lawmakers led the attack Sunday, criticizing the background of many of Ahmadinejad's picks for the 21-member cabinet and also the president's lack of a detailed plan to improve the country's beleaguered economy. Many such policy debates have been sidelined during the post-election turmoil. Given the importance of Iran's petroleum sector to the country's economy, lawmakers focused on the president's proposed oil minister, Massed Mirkazemi, as one nominee who they argued lacks the necessary experience for the job. Ahmadinejad defended Mirkazemi, calling him a "brave combatant" who would be able to manage the oil sector, which produces more than 80 percent of Iran's foreign revenue.
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