A private lunch meeting between incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai
and U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke is reported to have turned testy when
Holbrooke raised the issue of vote-rigging and fraud.
official said the day after the August 20 Afghan election, Holbrooke
urged Mr. Karzai to "respect the election process" whatever the result,
whether or not a runoff was necessary. The official said Mr. Karzai
A U.S. state department spokeswoman, Caitlin
Hayden, denied reports that Mr. Karzai had stormed out of the meeting.
She reiterated the administration's previous statements of neutrality
on the election outcome.
Mr. Karzai had enjoyed strong support from the U.S., but that support has been eroding lately.
Thursday, a U.S. State Department spokesman expressed concern over
reports that one of Mr. Karzai's vice-presidential running mates is
involved in drug trafficking.
With about 17 percent of the votes
counted, Mr. Karzai is in the lead. But the partial count does not
give him the more than the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off.
Mr. Karzai and his chief rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, both claimed victory after the election.
election officials cautioned the vote totals are still too small to
predict the final outcome of the election, which is already marred by
claims of widespread fraud.
They said they would not release the next batch of partial results until at least Saturday.
Final results are not due until next week at the earliest.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.