July 7, 2012 in Nation/World

Clinton makes brief stop in Afghanistan

Formalizes nation’s status as ‘major’ ally
Bradley Klapper Associated Press
 

Clinton
(Full-size photo)

Joining the club

Afghanistan becomes the 15th 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.

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.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai, 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.

The declaration was part of a Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by Presidents Barack Obama and Karzai in Kabul at the beginning of May.

On Wednesday, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, and the country’s foreign minister announced that the two countries had completed their internal processes to ratify the agreement, which has now gone into force.

Clinton and Karzai were expected to discuss U.S.-Afghan civilian and defense ties and stalled Afghan reconciliation efforts.

From Kabul, Clinton is heading later today 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.

Clinton arrived in Afghanistan from Paris, where she attended a 100-nation conference on Syria.

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


There is one comment on this story. Click here to view comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email