Afghanistan Given Special Ally Status by U.S., Clinton Says - Bloomberg
By Nicole Gaouette - 2012-07-07T05:46:44Z
Afghanistan will be granted major non-NATO ally status, a designation that allows for expedited loans and exports, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today in Kabul.
The designation, which goes into effect immediately, is the first such classification the Obama administration has made. Other countries accorded MNNA status by the U.S. include Israel, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Clinton, speaking in the gardens of the presidential palace in Kabul, emphasized the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan’s future and stability. “We’re not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan,” she said.
Clinton was in the Afghan capital for a visit lasting a little more than two hours before heading to Tokyo for a conference on Afghanistan that starts tomorrow. The gathering, which will focus on Afghanistan’s economic transition, will include financial pledges by nations attending.
While State Department officials traveling with Clinton have refused to comment on how much the U.S. will offer, they say it will be in line with previous levels of giving. When asked about the amount countries are expected to pledge to Afghanistan at the Tokyo conference, Clinton declined to answer.
Afghanistan needs an estimated $3.9 billion a year, according to a World Bank estimate.
Clinton said the MNNA designation will allow Afghanistan access to U.S. military supplies and to take part in training exercises with the U.S. military.
She told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the security transition is on track. “You will always have our support” in efforts to stabilize the country, Clinton said.
The secretary of state also reiterated the U.S. commitment to continuing reconciliation talks with the Taliban movement that is fighting Karzai’s government. “We see a positive shift,” she said.
Clinton said that, while the security situation remains “far from ideal,” the country is more stable. The Afghan National Security Forces are in the process of taking over responsibility for the security of 75 of the Afghan population, she said.
President Barack Obama came to Kabul in May to sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement that went into effect a few days ago and will govern all aspects of the bilateral relationship. Clinton said that the agreement was “not aimed at any one country.” Pakistan has concerns about Indian influence in Afghanistan and has tolerated militants along its border with Afghanistan. Clinton noted the recent announcement by Pakistan’s Parliament that Pakistani territory shall not be used to stage attacks on foreign countries and all foreign fighters found on Pakistani soil will be expelled.
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