U.S., Canada Sign Asia-Pacific Cooperation Framework
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Nov. 22, 2013 The United States and Canada will increase their security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, American and Canadian defense leaders announced here today.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Canadian Defense Minister Rob Nicholson signed the Canada-U.S. Asia-Pacific Cooperation Framework today as both leaders take part in the Halifax International Security Forum. The forum continues through the weekend, but Hagel will return to Washington late today.
Hagel said that signing the agreement on America’s day of remembrance for President John F. Kennedy reminded him of a speech Kennedy made to the Canadian parliament in 1961.
The secretary quoted from that speech: “The warmth of your hospitality symbolizes more than merely the courtesy which may be accorded to an individual visitor. They symbolize the enduring qualities of amity and honor which have characterized our countries’ relations for so many decades.”
Canada has long been among America’s most valued allies, Hagel said.
“Our bilateral defense relationship -- symbolized by NORAD [North American Aerospace Defense Command], the world’s only true bi-national command -- is one of the strongest in the world,” the secretary said.
The new agreement, he said, “is another example of our two nations being able to leverage each other’s strengths in order to help address global challenges.”
Canada and the United States are both Pacific nations, and each can benefit by working together, Hagel said.
“The United States and Canada will establish an annual strategic defense dialogue on the Asia-Pacific within the context of the Canada-U.S. Permanent Joint Board on Defense, which will meet for the 232nd time next month,” the secretary said.
Hagel added that the dialogue will help establish clear parameters for coordination of operations among the United States’ Pacific Command, Canadian Joint Operations Command, and the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.
“It will also help foster ties among our respective defense attachés in the region, as well as improve coordination for high-level visits and military-to-military activities where appropriate,” he said.
Hagel noted that an area of particular emphasis for both nations is humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
“At a time when both the U.S. and Canadian armed forces are proud to be providing relief to the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, implementing this framework will help us coordinate these activities even more effectively going forward,” he said.
In response to a reporter’s question, the secretary reiterated that America’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific is based on national interests, alliances and partnerships in the region.
“Our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific is about more than just military-to-military relations,” Hagel said. “It’s economic, it’s trade, it’s social, it’s cultural, it’s education, it’s security, it’s stability -- all of these are part of relationships in an interconnected world.”
The Canadian minister said Canada has no greater or closer friend and ally than the United States.
“As the global security environment grows ever more complex, we also continue to seek ways to work together beyond the hemisphere,” he added.
Nicholson said Canada recognizes the importance of maintaining security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region to ensure its continued peaceful growth.
“Both Canada and the United States share with our Asian partners an interest in promoting stability,” Nicholson said.
(Follow Karen Parrish on Twitter: @ParrishAFPS)