Times Wire Reports

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blasted critics within his own hard-line camp, while denying any rift with Iran's supreme leader, who he said was like a father.

The bitter feud with conservatives has shaken Ahmadinejad's government at a time when he is trying to fend off a major challenge from the other end of the political spectrum. The pro-reform opposition says his victory in June 12 presidential elections was fraudulent and that his government is illegitimate.

Conservatives cast doubt on Ahmadinejad's loyalty to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei because of a dispute over a controversial pick for vice president Ahmadinejad made two weeks ago.

Ahmadinejad said that his relationship with the supreme leader was "based on kindness, on ideology; it is like that of a father and son."

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