United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan heads to Afghanistan Friday for talks with Afghan interim government head Hamid Karzai.
Mr. Annan's trip to Kabul follows talks in Islamabad, Pakistan, aimed at securing regional support for Afghanistan's post-Taleban government. After talks in Kabul, Mr. Annan is heading to another of Afghanistan's influential neighbors, Iran.
Meanwhile, U-N Deputy Special Envoy Francesc Vendrell says he has found no evidence of Iranian interference in Afghanistan. His comment come after U-S media reports said Iran was seeking to undermine Afghanistan's interim government by arming and bankrolling Afghan warlords outside the capital, Kabul.
Citing U-S intelligence sources, two major U-S newspapers have reported several alleged incidents of Iranian influence-buying in western Afghanistan in recent weeks.
Both the Washington Post and the New York Times (newspapers) have reported that U-S officials are increasingly concerned that Iran is meddling in the Afghan border province of Herat. The reports led President Bush to issue a statement warning Tehran against any interference.
But today (Thursday) in the Afghan capital, Mr. Vendrell hailed Iran's commitment to Afghan reconstruction, saying Tehran has as much interest as other donor countries in the successful reconstruction of Afghanistan. Iran has pledged 560 million dollars for Afghan reconstruction over the next five years.
Some analysts have suggested that any Iranian contact inside Afghanistan is coming from local tribal chiefs and does not reflect official government policy in Tehran.