US designates Afghanistan as major ally: Clinton

Agence France-Presse
The US designates Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally, giving the country special privileges

KABUL, Afghanistan – The United States has designated Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally, giving the war-torn country special privileges as the US prepares to pull its troops out in 2014, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday, July 7.

Clinton announced the designation, which provides a long-term framework for security and defense cooperation, during a visit to Kabul where she is to hold talks with President Hamid Karzai.

The new status, which comes into effect immediately, makes it easier for a country to purchase and finance its acquisition of US defence equipment, a US official said.

“As we withdraw, they want to ensure that they continue to have this preferential treatment,” he said.

This is the first such designation by President Barack Obama’s administration. Other countries with the designation include Pakistan, Israel, Egypt, Japan, Jordan Korea, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand

“Going forward as we move towards a more normalised relationship these are things that they can really harness,” the official said.

The US-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan has some 130,000 troops helping Karzai’s government fight a Taliban insurgency, but they are due to withdraw by the end of 2014. – Agence France-Presse

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