Iranian official: US ties don't affect unrest in Afghanistan

An improvement in Iran's relationship with the United States would have no effect on Afghanistan's Taliban militancy or the country's booming drug trade, an Iranian diplomat said Tuesday. The comments came ahead of a conference to discuss the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, proposed by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta has said that any decrease in tensions between Iran and the West would benefit Afghanistan. But Feda Hussein Maliki, Iran's ambassador to Kabul, said he wasn't even sure that Iran would attend the March 31 conference, adding that Teheran has yet to receive an invitation. Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Christoph Prommersberger says an invitation has been delivered by the Dutch embassy in Teheran and to the Iranian Embassy in The Hague. "Our relation is a strategic relation with Afghanistan ... a deep relationship that has no links with other relations, whether America would or wouldn't be in Afghanistan," Maliki said on the sidelines of a ceremony marking a trade pact to import Iranian cars to Afghanistan.