KABUL, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said here on Saturday that U.S. President Barack Obama has designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally of the United States.
"I am pleased to announce today that President Barack Obama has officially designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally of the United States," Clinton told reporters in a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the Presidential Palace.
She said, "There are a number of benefits that accrue to countries that have this designation, they are able to have access to defense supplies .. they can be part of certain kind of training and capacity building."
Clinton, who is in Kabul for a surprise visit before a key conference on the country to be held in Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, said the U.S. is pledged to continue its support and will work with Afghanistan to get more international support.
The insurgency-hit country would be the 15th such country that the U.S. has declared as a major non-NATO ally.
"This is a kind of relationship that we think will be an especially beneficial as we do the transition and as we plan for the post-2014 process," Clinton said.
She said the transition of security from U.S. and NATO forces to the Afghan security force was on truck, adding, "The security situation is more stable" in Afghanistan.
The transition process began in July in 2011 and the Afghan forces and NATO troops have completed transition in the first two of five tranches of provinces and districts across the country, where about half of the Afghan population now lives.
Under U.S. President Barack Obama's withdrawal plan, 10,000 U.S. troops pulled out from Afghanistan last year and another 23,000 will return home by September this year.
President Karzai called Clinton's trip as an important one, and said he and the U.S. secretary of states will leave by separate flights later Saturday for Japan to attend the Tokyo Conference.
Delegates from some 70 nations and international agencies are expected to attend the one-day Tokyo conference on Afghanistan to review the achievements in the past decade and chalk out a new roadmap for the war-torn country, helping it stand on its own feet following the retreat of NATO-led troops after 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Saturday morning for an unannounced visit, an Afghan official said.