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Immediate Release

Readout of the Inaugural U.S.-Ecuador Defense Bilateral Working Group

Department of Defense Spokesman Lt. Col. Devin Robinson provided the following readout:

On June 21-22, 2023, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs (DASD), Mr. Daniel Erikson, co-chaired the inaugural U.S.-Ecuador Defense Bilateral Working Group with Ecuador's Minister of National Defense, Luis Eduardo Lara Jaramillo. The meeting took place in Quito, Ecuador.

The U.S. delegation included the U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador, Michael Fitzpatrick; Thomas "Jeff" Hughes, Deputy Director for Strategy, Policy, and Plans (J5), U.S. Southern Command; Greg Hermsmeyer, Acting Director, Office of Security Assistance, Department of State, Bureau of Political Military Affairs; and Dr. Paul Angelo, Director of the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies.

The U.S.-Ecuador Defense Bilateral Working Group constituted the first senior-level defense talks between the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Defense, following on the bilateral meeting between U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III and Ecuador's Minister of Defense Luis Lara on the margins of the 15th Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas that took place in Brasilia, Brazil in July 2022.  The engagement established a formal strategic, policy-level dialogue to examine regional defense and security issues, shape future security cooperation goals and efforts, and advance U.S.-Ecuador defense relations.

During the Defense Bilateral Working Group, DASD Erikson and Minister Lara discussed bilateral and regional defense and security priorities and concrete steps for strengthening Ecuador's defense institutions and armed forces. The priority topics of discussion included combating transnational organized crime, the environmental and security impacts of the climate-related phenomenon known as "El Niño" and broader issues of climate resilience, and a roadmap for future cooperation including in the areas of multi-domain awareness, increased operational capabilities, and cyber defense.