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FACTDROP: Clinton, in Kabul, declares Afghanistan a major U.S. ally


Clinton, in Kabul, declares Afghanistan a major U.S. ally

Afghan president Hamid Karzai, right, shakes hands with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the conclusion of a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Saturday. The United States has designated Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally, Clinton said.

Πηγή: Washington Post
By Stephanie McCrummen
July 7 2012

KABUL — During a brief, unannounced stop here Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that Afghanistan has been officially designated a “major non-NATO ally,” a status that does not entail any security commitments but which will make it easier for Afghanistan to secure financing for defense equipment, facilitate military training, and other benefits for its security forces as U.S. and NATO forces prepare to withdraw from the country.

“We see this as a powerful symbol of our commitment to Afghanistan’s future...” Clinton said after meeting with President Hamid Karzai, with whom she has had a relatively close rapport even as he has clashed with U.S. commanders and ambassadors. “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 was first announced in May but is now being fully implemented. Other countries in this category include Pakistan, Japan, South Korea and Israel.

Karzai in recent years has walked a delicate path between harshly criticizing the conduct of U.S. troops — particularly when civilians are killed or airstrikes used on Afghan homes — and at the same time pressing for as much American money, supplies, and training for his country for as long as possible. His criticism, as well as the unchecked corruption in his government, has frustrated the donor nations which fund his government and security forces. But the Obama administration has sought to reassure Afghans that they won’t be left to fend for themselves even as U.S. troops head home.

U.S. officials have yet to negotiate the exact troop levels that will remain in Afghanistan after combat operations are expected to conclude in 2014. In the upcoming Tokyo conference, donors are expected to pledge $3.9 billion in annual economic and development aid at least through 2017.

Clinton landed in Kabul early Saturday morning, a brief stop as she heads to Tokyo for a conference on nonmilitary aid to Afghanistan.

It was Clinton’s first visit to Kabul since President Obama and Karzai signed an agreement May 1 that commits the U.S. to support Afghanistan for the next decade in security, economic development, rule of law and other areas.

Clinton addressed U.S. Embassy employees, who cheered and whooped her arrival, and then met with Karzai.

During a press conference in the manicured garden outside the presidential palace, Clinton expressed optimism about the Tokyo conference, even though many donor nations have reservations about sending aid to one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

“We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan,” Clinton said. “We are building a partnership with Afghanistan that will endure into the future.”

Then she got back in the plane and headed to Tokyo.

Clinton arrived in Kabul after attending a meeting of “Friends of Syria” foreign ministers in Paris, where she denounced Russia and China for “blockading” international efforts to bring an end to the Syrian crisis.

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