Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Saturday that the United States had conferred major non-NATO ally status to Afghanistan placing the nation into an elite group of Asian and Middle Eastern allies including Israel, Japan and Pakistan, the New York Times reports.
The move, announced by Clinton alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, is part of a broad strategic partnership signed between the United States and Afghanistan. The pact went into effect this past week.
"We see this as a powerful symbol of our commitment to Afghanistan's future," Clinton told reporters.
The pact between the two nations grants Afghanistan special privileges including access to excess American military supplies and training, and some areas of military planning and procurement.
Afghanistan will also be able to obtain loans of equipment from the United States and financing for leasing other equipment, but the agreement does not "entail any security commitment" by the United States to Afghanistan, the State Department said.
Afghanistan's designation as a formal ally is the latest move in a series of American actions to ease Afghan fears of being abandoned at the end of NATO's combat mission in 2014. The next step according to Afghan and American officials is working out a deal that would keep a residual force of American soldiers in the nation to train Afghan soldiers and track down insurgents, but those talks have not yet begun.