Iran’s tourism department to be taken off presidency

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TEHRAN, Iran – State radio says parliament has voted in principle to support a bill to take away responsibility for Iran’s Tourism Department from the president’s office.

The Sunday report says lawmakers will discuss the bill’s details at a later, unspecified date.

If it becomes law, the Tourism Department will be placed under the Culture Ministry.

The move is apparently a reaction to recent remarks by the department’s head and vice president, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, that Iranians were “friends of all people in the world — even Israelis.”

Mashai’s August remarks sparked calls for his dismissal, but Ahmadinejad appears to be standing by his vice president.