Iran is emerging as a key player in discussions on a post-Taliban Afghanistan. Over the past week, four high-level European diplomats have traveled to Tehran seeking Iranian support for a plan that would establish an interim Afghan government with the backing of the United Nations.
A small group of US congressmen attended an informal dinner in Washington on October 17 with a top Iranian diplomat in an attempt to promote cooperation and speed the normalization of relations between the United States and Iran.
President Bush has set out clear terms for the global war against terrorism. Around the world, states are either "with us or with the terrorists." In late September, Iran appeared to choose the latter. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei refused to join the US-led coalition, stating that his country would not join America in a fight against Iran's Muslim brothers in Afghanistan.
Azerbaijan and Iran have been sparring since July 23, when an Iranian gunboat challenged two Azerbaijani oil exploration vessels which were conducting environmental studies on behalf of the BP Amoco conglomerate in the disputed Araz-Sharg-Alov field. Iranian officials asserted that the Azerbaijani ships were operating in Iran's territorial waters.
When US President George Bush met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in bucolic Slovenia in June, something curious was underway near the Caspian Sea. The 'neutral' government of Turkmenistan struck a deal with Russia to exchange gas for Russian arms.
In a cautiously worded speech at Columbia University on July 10, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi declared his country's "religious democracy" was eager to promote trade and encourage regional friendships.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami won a second term in a electoral landslide on June 8. The reform-minded Khatami received unprecedented support 21.6 million votes, or about 77 percent of the ballots cast for a president seeking re-election. His closest rival, conservative former supply minister Ahmad Tavakoil, received 15 percent of the vote.