July 7 - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces on a visit to Kabul that Afghanistan has been declared a major non-NATO ally to the U.S.. Sarah Charlton reports.
Afghanistan has been declared a major ally of the U.S. Largely symbolic in status, the announcement reinforces Washington's message that Afghans wont be abandoned as foreign troops withdraw. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered the news on an unannounced visit to Kabul. SOUNDBITE: U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE, HILLARY CLINTON, SAYING (English): "I am pleased to announce today that President Obama has officially designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally of the United States, we see this as a powerful symbol of our commitment to Afghanistan's future." As war winds down, the status upgrade may help Afghanistan have access to U.S. defence supplies and training for local troops. SOUNDBITE: U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON SAYING (English): "Obviously we know Afghanistan has an agenda ahead of itself to make key economic reforms to fight corruption to strengthen the role of law to attract more trade and investment, and I want to commend president Karzai for his strong public pledges to stand about corruption and build institutions that will be critical for Afghanistan's future and Mr. President you will always have our support in your efforts." The news came on the eve of a major Afghan donors' conference in Japan. Just under $4 billion in annual development aid is expected to be pledged. This is on top of the $4.1 billion committed by NATO and its partners in May. Sarah Charlton, Reuters.