The United States has given Afghanistan the status of "major non-NATO ally", reinforcing its message to Afghans that the two countries will maintain defense and economic ties even after American military’s withdrawal, world media said on Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the designation, made by President Barack Obama, in Kabul during a previously unannounced drop-in on her way to Tokyo for an international donors' conference which will draw pledges for aid.
"Please know that the United States will be your friend and your partner. We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan. Quite the opposite," Clinton told a press briefing before jetting off to Tokyo.
The designation, which includes countries such as Australia, Egypt and Israel, gives preferential access to U.S. arms exports and defense cooperation.
Clinton said, "This is the kind of relationship that we think will be especially beneficial as we do the transition and as we plan for the post-2014 presence because it will open the door to Afghanistan's military to have a greater capacity and a broader kind of relationship with the United States."