NEW YORK - Zalmay Khalilzad, an American citizen of Afghan origin who was U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan under George W. Bushs administration, could assume a powerful, unelected post in the strife-torn country, a leading American newspaper reported Tuesday. Khalilzad has been in talks with the Afghan President Hamid Karzai for several weeks to assume a position both men have described as chief executive officer of Afghanistan, The New York Times said, citing senior US and Afghan officials. But in Kabul, a spokesman for Karzai said the president had no plan to install Khalilzad as chief executive of Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Afghan presidency said on Tuesday, denying the Times report. We are not aware of this. We cannot confirm this. There is no truth in it, spokesman Siyamak Herawi was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency. Khlilzad had considered running against Karzai in the August 20 presidential elections, but missed a May 8 filing deadline. There are currently 44 presidential candidates, some of whom Afghanistans election authority has complained are unknown or lack a clear programme. Assuming the unelected post would allow Khalilzad to serve as a prime minister, except not prime minister because he wouldnt be responsible to a parliamentary system, a top official from President Barack Obamas administration told the Times. Candidates for president have to meet basic requirements, such as being born in Afghanistan, having only Afghan citizenship and at least 40 years old. Khalilzad would be able to keep his US citizenship under the new post. The chief executive idea, according to US officials, was proposed by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, although they said Karzai had sought out Khalilzad. US and British officials also showed concern about belief that the West was behind the plan could hamper international efforts in Afghanistan, where US and NATO forces are battling a mounting insurgency from the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies. Khalilzad met with Karzai and discussed the plan when the Afghan leader visited Washington two weeks ago, before flying to Kabul several days ago to continue the talks, according to The Times. During his Washington visit, Karzai reportedly discussed his plans for the job with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US special envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke. Obama, Clinton and Holbrooke all told Karzai that the decision on whether to proceed was his and that of Khalilzad, the newspaper said. A plan that puts Mr Khalilzad near the top of a Karzai government would provide the Obama administration with a strong conduit to push American interests in Afghanistan, particularly in cracking down on corruption and the drug trade, it noted. Karzai and Khalilzad have had a long and sometimes bumpy relationship. They worked closely when Khalilzad was ambassador to Afghanistan, from 2003 to 2005, and Karzai, the new president of a fledgling democracy, was viewed as a darling of the West. At that time, Khalilzad was known as Viceroy of Kabul and Karzais boss. But as the United States and Britain have become increasingly disenchanted with Karzai amid widespread corruption allegations, the two men have also put some distance between themselves, which expanded further as Khalilzad began to make plans to run against Karzai for president, the dispatch said. While he was working for the Bush administration, Khalilzad often brushed up against other officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He got in trouble for appearing on a panel with Irans foreign minister without getting permission from the White House first. And he annoyed State Department officials when he arranged to meet in Dubai with Asif Ali Zardari to talk about Zardaris bid for the presidency of Pakistan, just when the United States was trying to convince Pakistanis that America was not interfering in their internal politics.