United States President George W Bush will soon designate Pakistan as a major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally "for the purposes of our future military-to-military relations", Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Islamabad on Thursday.
The announcement followed a meeting between Powell and Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri.
Powell was in Islamabad on the final leg of his three-nation South Asian tour that took him to India and Afghanistan earlier.
The announcement came despite global concerns about the nuclear proliferation row involving top Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. It also coincided with Pakistan launching a fresh offensive against suspected Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in tribal areas near the Afghanistan border.
The designation means that Pakistan will join an exclusive club of nations, including Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, which are given preferential treatment by the US in areas of foreign aid and defence cooperation.
Welcoming the Pakistani military activities in the tribal areas, Powell said, "We are committed to a long-term relationship with Pakistan."
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