Hillary Clinton announces major non-NATO ally status for Afghanistan


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walks with President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai to a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on July 7, 2012.



Afghanistan has been granted major non-NATO ally status, a designation giving the country special privileges, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Kabul.

The designation, the first made by the Obama administration has made, allows for expedited loans and exports, according to the Associated Press, as well as a longterm framework for security and defense cooperation.

It also enables a country to more easily purchase and finance US defense equipment, a US official told Agence France-Presse.

"As we withdraw, they want to ensure that they continue to have this preferential treatment," he said, referring to the planned 2014 withdrawal of most troops from the Afghanistan.

Israel, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand and Japan are among the other countries accorded so-called major non-NATO ally status.

AFP cited Clinton as saying in the gardens of the presidential palace in Kabul: "We see this as a powerful symbol of our commitment to Afghanistan's future. Please know that the United States will be your friend and your partner. We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan. Quite the opposite."

According to the AP, she also repeated the tenets of America's "fight, talk, build" strategy for Afghanistan — which aims to defeat dangerous extremists, win over Taliban and other militants and help in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

The Defense Secretary stopped over in the Afghan capital for little more than two hours en route to Tokyo for a conference on Afghanistan. 

That gathering will focus on Afghanistan’s economic transition and include financial pledges by nations attending.

Afghanistan needs an estimated $3.9 billion a year, Bloomberg wrote, citing a World Bank estimate, while Afghanistan's central bank has said it will need more than $4 billion in aid each year, along with $4 billion for security forces, according to the BBC.

Asked about the amount countries are expected to pledge to Afghanistan at the Tokyo conference, including the US, Clinton reportedly declined to answer.

Also, while Kabul was seeking firm commitments of funds, donors at the Tokyo meeting were likely to make it conditional on good governance and transparency, the BBC wrote.

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