Iran — Iran's supreme leader gave a ringing endorsement Saturday to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's foreign policy, suggesting Iran's top authority favors an ultra-conservative hard-line bloc over moderate elements seeking rapprochement with the West.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is the final arbiter of political, military and religious decisions in Iran's government, which grafts elements of a boisterous democratic republic onto a clerical autocracy.
Ahmadinejad's policies have spawned discontent across the political spectrum. His allies lost badly in December municipal elections and a loose coalition of moderate conservatives and reformists has begun to gel against him.
But Khamenei, with the beleaguered Ahmadinejad sitting next to him on the podium, backed the government's hard-line course, including its ambitious foreign policy.
Iran has defied U.N. Security Council demands to halt its nuclear enrichment program and provides material and moral support to armed groups in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.