US Declares Afghanistan Major Non-NATO Ally
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Saturday that Afghanistan has been officially designated a “major non-NATO ally,” a status that allows for streamlined defense cooperation, including expedited purchasing ability of American equipment and easier export control regulations.
“We see this as a powerful symbol of our commitment to Afghanistan’s future,” Clinton said at a news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a brief stop in the Afghan capital on her way to Tokyo for a 70-nation conference on civilian aid to Afghanistan. “This is the kind of relationship we think will be especially beneficial as we do the transition and as we plan for the post-2014 presence.”
The designation, which was first announced in May, is now being fully implemented.
Other countries in the category include Israel, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea.
It is one more way that the Obama administration is seeking to reassure Karzai that the United States will not abandon Afghanistan after American and NATO troops withrdwarl from the country.
A U.S. diplomatic official said Saturday that donor nations have pledged $16 billion in development aid to the country over the next four years, despite concerns over the country’s rampant corruption.
Clinton said the U.S. has been working closely with Afghan authorities to eliminate fraud, mismanagement and abuse. She said the meeting in Tokyo would include accountability measures to ensure that money sent to Afghanistan benefits the Afghan people.
"This is an issue the government and the people of Afghanistan want action on, and we want to ensure they are successful," Clinton said.
U.S. officials have yet to negotiate the exact number of troops that will remain in Afghanistan after combat operations are expected to conclude in 2014.
During the news conference, Clinton repeated the tenets of America's "fight, talk, build" strategy for Afghanistan: defeat extremists, and win over Taliban militants and others willing to renounce violence and help in the long reconstruction of Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported.
"This is the kind of relationship that we think will be especially beneficial as we plan for the transition," Clinton stated. "It will help the Afghan military expand its capacity and have a broader relationship with the United States."