US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit Saturday on the eve of a major conference in Tokyo in which Afghanistan is set to seek billions of dollars in civilian aid.
Clinton was in Kabul on a previously unannounced visit and will meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and will travel to Tokyo to attend a conference Sunday about providing future financial support for reconstruction and development in war-torn Afghanistan.
U.S. officials with Clinton declined to say how much aid the United States would pledge at the Tokyo meeting, nor how much was expected to be committed overall as the international community seeks to back the Afghan economy and prevent the country from sliding back into chaos as foreign troops withdraw.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also disclosed the alliance to diplomats at the U.S. Embassy.
The designation allows for streamlined defense cooperation, including expedited purchasing ability of American equipment and easier export control regulations. Afghanistan’s military, which is heavily dependent on American and foreign assistance, already enjoys many of these benefits. The non-NATO ally status guarantees it will continue to do so.
“I am going to be announcing formally with President Karzai in just a little bit that President Obama has officially designated Afghanistan as what’s called a major non-NATO ally of the United States,” Clinton said.
Afghanistan becomes the 15th such country the U.S. has declared a major non-NATO ally. Others include Australia, Egypt, Israel and Japan. Afghanistan’s neighbor Pakistan was the last nation to gain the status in 2004.