The Obama administration has declared Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally of the United States.
The status is meant to facilitate close defense cooperation between the U.S. and the South Asian nation.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the announcement to diplomats at the U.S. embassy in Kabul during her previously unannounced visit to Afghanistan.
Clinton landed in Kabul early Saturday on her way to the Afghan donor conference in Japan that begins Sunday.
After meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace Clinton said the new status for Afghanistan is a symbol of the United States' commitment to the country's future, and added that the U.S. is not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan.