Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament on Sunday approved President Hassan Rouhani’s nominee for sports minister, filling out the cabinet after rejecting a number of earlier picks, media reported.
Mahmoud Goudarzi, currently head of the Faculty of Physical Education and Sports Science at the University of Tehran, received 199 of the 267 votes cast, with 44 opposed and 24 abstaining.
Rouhani, a reputed moderate who took office in August, attended the session to defend his nominee, urging parliament to support his administration as it engages in high-stakes nuclear talks.
“The government will be successful in its foreign policies only if the foreigners see our unity,” the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.
“The conditions of the country, society and region … require us to work more cooperatively with each other.”
On August 15, Iran’s parliament rejected three of the 18 candidates proposed by Rouhani. It approved two ministers but rejected a third in late October.
Previous nominees for the sports and youth ministry had been rejected by the conservative-dominated parliament for “being close to the reformist camp” as well as “lacking enough experience.”
Rouhani won a first-round election victory on a promise to engage with Western powers in order to bring about the lifting of crippling sanctions imposed on Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme.
Israel and Western powers have long accused Iran of covertly pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian programme, charges denied by Tehran.
Supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on major policy questions, has lent cautious support to Rouhani’s overtures, while hardliners have warned against making concessions to the West.
The so-called P5+1 group of major powers has sought to reach an interim agreement with Iran to curb or freeze its nuclear programme in exchange for some sanctions relief, but negotiators failed to clinch a deal in Geneva last weekend and more talks are planned this week.
The P5+1 consists of the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany.