By the CNN Wire Staff
The United States named Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally Saturday, clearing the way for the two countries to maintain a defense and economic relationship even as American combat troops withdraw.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the designation during a surprise visit to Kabul.
A day after the announcement, she will attend a gathering of international donors in Tokyo who will be asked to pledge financial support for Afghanistan after nearly all U.S.-led NATO troops pull out of the country by the end of 2014.
The relationship is beneficial during the transition as both nations prepare for post-2014, according to Clinton.
By Elise Labott
When the Friends of Syria group began meeting this year, first in Tunis and again in Istanbul, there was a sense of possibility. Perhaps the group would endorse military action against Syria. Maybe they would recognize the Syrian National Council as the legitimate opposition group.
Six months in, the allure has worn off. At their third meeting in Paris, there were no expectations any decisions would be made, except for who would host the next meeting.
Calls were made for tougher sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, even though most countries which had any business with Syria have already imposed tough measures to no avail.