KABUL, Afghanistan — The Obama administration today declared Afghanistan the United States’ newest “major non-NATO ally,” an action designed to facilitate close defense cooperation after U.S. combat troops withdraw from the country in 2014 and as a political statement of support for Afghanistan’s long-term stability.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that President Barack Obama had designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally shortly after arriving in the country for talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
“We see this as a powerful commitment to Afghanistan’s future,” she said at a news conference in the grand courtyard of Kabul’s Presidential Palace. “We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan.” Clinton insisted that progress was coming incrementally but consistently to the war-torn nation after decades of conflict.
At the news conference, Karzai welcomed Clinton to Kabul and thanked the U.S. for its continued support.
From Kabul, Clinton was heading to Japan for an international conference on Afghan civilian assistance. Donors are expected to pledge around $4 billion a year in long-term civilian support. Karzai was also attending the conference.
Afghanistan becomes the 15th such country the U.S. has declared a major non-NATO ally. Others include Australia, Egypt, Israel and Japan. Pakistan was the last to gain the status, in 2004.