The Obama administration today formally declared Afghanistan the United States' newest "major non-NATO ally," an action designed to facilitate close defense cooperation after US combat troops withdraw in 2014. "We see this as a powerful commitment to Afghanistan's future," said Hillary Clinton at a news conference in the grand courtyard of Kabul's Presidential Palace. She made a surprise stop in the nation for talks with Hamid Karzai. "We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan."
Clinton insisted that progress was coming incrementally but consistently to the war-torn nation after decades of conflict. "The security situation is more stable," she said. Afghan forces "are improving their capacity." From Kabul, Clinton and Karzai were heading separately to Japan for an international conference on Afghan civilian assistance. Donors were expected to pledge around $4 billion a year in long-term civilian support. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)