Clinton in Kabul as U.S. declares Afghanistan major non-NATO ally.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a previously unannounced visit to Kabul on Saturday, on the eve of an international conference in Tokyo on Afghanistan's post-2014 financial needs, and announced that the country has been designated a "major non-NATO ally" of the United States.
"We see this as a powerful commitment to Afghanistan's future," Clinton said at a news conference at the Presidential Palace, which she visited for talks with President Hamid Karzai.
"It will open the door to Afghanistan's military to have a greater capacity and broader kind of relationship with the United States, and particularly the United States military," she said.
Alluding to the situation after 2014 when most U.S. combat troops are scheduled to leave the country and the Afghan government assumes full responsibility for security, Clinton said the United States is "not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan."
"We will continue...to protect Afghanistan from any efforts by insurgents and outsiders to destabilize Afghanistan," she said.
Major non-NATO ally status was originally pledged for Afghanistan as part of the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by Karzai and President Barack Obama in Washington on May 2.
Only a limited number of other countries have this special status -- Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand -- as well as Taiwan.
The status allows for provision of training, loans of equipment and financing for commercial leasing of equipment.
But the designation alone does not entail any U.S. commitment to the defense of the status recipient.
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|Publication:||Asian Political News|
|Date:||Jul 9, 2012|
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