KABUL: The United States has named Afghanistan a major non-Nato ally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday, a move that could reinforce Washington's message to Afghans that they will not be abandoned as the war winds down.
Clinton announced the decision, formally made by President Barack Obama, during her unannounced visit to Kabul where she will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the eve of a major donors' conference in Tokyo which will draw pledges for aid.
"I am going to be announcing formally with President Karzai in just a little bit... There are a very small number of countries that fit into that category," Clinton told US embassy staff in Kabul.
Obama's decision meets a pledge he made on a visit to Afghanistan this year to upgrade Kabul to a special security status given to only a limited number of US partners, including close allies like Israel and Japan, which are not members of Nato.
The status upgrade, which will make it easier for Afghanistan to acquire defense materiel from the United States, follows Nato's decision to withdraw most combat troops by the end of 2014.
Participants at the Tokyo meeting are expected to commit just under $4 billion annually in development aid for Afghanistan at Sunday's meeting, though the central bank has said the country needs at least $6 billion a year to foster economic growth over the next decade.
US officials with Clinton declined to say how much aid the United States would pledge, which has significantly reduced aid since the peak year of 2010 when more than $6 billion was given, two thirds from Washington.
"I think both the overall hard number of the international assistance as well as the US percentage of that number will be coming down," said one senior official traveling with Clinton.
Donor Fatigue, War Weariness.
Now, donor fatigue and war weariness are taking their toll on how long the global community is willing to support Afghanistan, and there are fears that without financial backing, the country could slip back into chaos when foreign troops withdraw.
US officials acknowledged that the trend lines for donating development aid were heading down.
Major donors and aid organizations have warned that weak political will and graft could prevent funds reaching the right people at a critical time, when fragile gains in health and education could be lost if funding does not continue.
Assuaging those fears, the US official added: "But that (amount) is still high enough and specific enough to show that there is a true commitment by the entire international community".
US officials may be reluctant to cite a specific pledge because the sum actually given is ultimately controlled by Congress, which holds the US government's purse strings.
Enthusiasm for foreign aid has generally waned in Congress because of massive US budget deficits.
Clinton's talks with Karzai were expected to touch on efforts to achieve reconciliation with the Taliban, the US official added.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ
There's fear that much of the billions spent on Afghanistan is going down the drain. Its latest request for about at least $6 billion in annual aid underscored the greed of Karzai's administrtion, which has sofar failed to convict any high official in connection with even the most massive and brazen instances of fraud. The grave and intractable problem - corruption puts the international community off, to engage itself in Afghanistan.
@Lala Gee: Isn’t this the same status “Major Non-NATO Ally” already granted to Pakistan. And look what US along with her “Strategic Partner” did to Pakistan. . yes the same status as Japan, South Korea, Israel, Thailand. Look how developed these resource poor countries have become and look at the condition of resource rich, strategically located Major Non-NATO Ally Pakistan. Look at South Korea which Pakistanis are fond of saying was once more backward than Pakistan. Ever wondered the problem could be in Pakistan which wasted such opportunity to become a developed country?
@Lala Gee: "And look what US along with her “Strategic Partner” did to Pakistan." Out of about half-a-dozen designated "Major Non-NATO Allies" which includes Pakistan, which country other than Pakistan was duplicitous, double-dealing, double-dipping, double-billing, ungrateful? None! Try looking in the mirror, my friend. What you see would repulse even you! It has repulsed rest of the world! "A lesson for the wise." I don't think Pakistan will ever learn. Of course, it was never wise to begin with!
@Lala Gee: True to a certain degree. With Pakistan, it is for road passage for its cargo and also to carry out drone strikes inside it. With Afghan, it is like Japan and South Korea: any country that tries to destabilize or attack it will draw the full wrath of USA/NATO.
@Ozymandias: not the drones...they are real....
Isn't this the same status "Major Non-NATO Ally" already granted to Pakistan. And look what US along with her "Strategic Partner" did to Pakistan. A lesson for the wise.
@Ozymandias: " Words are wind, my friends"
Yes, in Pakistan's case.
Words are wind, my friends
@Parvez: Double speak has to be dealth with a double speak.
It is signal to pakistan for no 'strategic depth'.
One more step taken towards the withdrawal. They will leave Afghanistan and will say we won't be ignoring Afghanistan as its our non NATO ally. pffttt!
So after 2014, any country that tries to destablise Afghan will have to fight USA/NATO directly.
It would be good if free and fair elections could determine a replacement for Karzai, rather than American easing him out some time in the future. It is important to strengthen democratic institutions in Afghanistan and just pumping in money alone will not achieve that. We also need relationships to be less people-dependent and more structural.
Brilliant double speak. Say we're getting out from the right side of the mouth and from the left side say we are going to stay.
This is a dreadful news for Pakistan as they believed that the NATO forces will completely withdraw from Afghanistan and the region after 2014 and then after that Pakistan will scuttle ahead with its nefarious designs and use Afghanistan for their extremely wicked purposes like they used to have at the time of Taliban regime in Afghanistan. This move is seriously going to give shivering nightmares to the Pakistani think-tank as they were vouching a lot on the withdrawal of U.S forces from Afghanistan.