TEHRAN (AFP/Reuters) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fired Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and temporarily replaced him with atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi, the official IRNA news agency reported on Monday. It gave no reasons for the surprise move, which comes as Iran is engaged in talks with world powers over its sensitive nuclear programme. Mottaki, a career diplomat, was appointed to the post of foreign minister in August 2005. He is currently in Senegal on an official visit. Mottaki is considered a close ally of Ahmadinejads election rival, parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who is locked in a struggle with the president over the relative powers of parliament and the executive. The change of foreign minister is a sign that the infighting between Ahmadinejad and Larijani is deepening, analysts say. State television reported that Ahmadinejad had made Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization and a close ally, caretaker foreign minister. IRNA said Salehi will keep his current job while acting as foreign minister. But a source told the semi-official Fars news agency that Mohammad Ghanadi, a senior nuclear official, might replace Salehi in the countrys top nuclear post. I appreciate your diligence and services as the foreign minister, IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in a letter to Manouchehr Mottaki. I hope your efforts receive a praise by God and you will be successful in the rest of your life at the service of people of our Islamic nation, he added. A reformist website said Mottaki was dismissed because he had been critical of Ahmadinejads foreign policy. Mottaki failed to adjust himself to the presidents viewpoints and his foreign policy, the website Mardomsalari reported. The website Khabaronline, which is close to the government, said Mottaki had harshly criticized the president for setting up a parallel diplomatic apparatus by appointing six foreign policy advisers. Ahmadinejads government, backed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, crushed the street protests that followed Ahmadinejads disputed re-election in June 2009. The vote created a deepening rift among ruling hardliners, some of whom resent the rising economic and political power of Ahmadinejad. Salehi was Ahmadinejads first choice for the ministry in 2005 ... but Khamenei rejected Salehi, a moderate former official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Early December, while attending a security meeting in neighbouring Bahrain, Mottaki hailed as a step forward US Secretary of State Hillary Clintons remarks that Iran is entitled to a peaceful nuclear energy programme. Clinton had told the BBC that Iran could enrich uranium for civilian purposes in the future, but only once it has demonstrated it can do so in a responsible manner and in accordance with Irans international obligations. His comments appeared to cut across Irans official position, repeated almost daily, which is that the enrichment of uranium by Tehran is non-negotiable. IRNA also said that Ahmadinejad in a separate directive appointed Irans Salehi as the caretaker of the foreign ministry. Due to your commitment, knowledge and valued expertise ... you are appointed as caretaker of the foreign ministry, the directive read. Salehi is one of Irans vice-presidents and head of its atomic energy organisation. According to the law, the president has to submit his nominations for ministerial posts to parliament for approval. The sacking of Mottaki comes just days after Iran held crunch talks in Geneva December 6-7 with world powers over its controversial nuclear dossier. Further talks are scheduled for next month. Salehi, who was appointed atomic energy chief in on July 17, 2009, has been a driving force behind Irans atomic programme and during his tenure, Irans first nuclear power plant has come on line. Salehi, a PhD graduate of the prestigious MIT in United States, in his comments after his appointment as Irans atomic chief said: Legal and technical discussions about Irans nuclear case have finished ... and there is no room left to keep this case open. He served as Irans representative in the Vienna based International Atomic Energy Agency during the presidency of the reformist Mohammad Khatami. Ahead of the talks in Geneva, Salehi announced Iran had produced a first batch of uranium yellowcake, the raw material for enrichment. He said that having previously been obliged to import yellowcake from abroad, Iran was now self-sufficient in the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Mottaki, a fluent speaker of English who is also comfortable in Urdu and Turkish, earned a degree in social sciences from the University of Bangalore in India and a graduate degree in international relations from Tehran University in 1991. Between serving as diplomat to Ankara from 1985 to 1989 and later Tokyo from 1994 to 1998, he headed the Western Europe section of the foreign ministry in 1989, and has also acted as a deputy FM and consultant between 1984 and 2004. He was among those elected to the first parliament after Irans Islamic Revolution in 1979.