Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

February 03, 2012 11:00 ET

Minister MacKay Attends the NATO Defence Ministers Meeting in Brussels

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 3, 2012) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, participated in a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Defence Ministers on February 2-3, in Brussels, Belgium.

While the meeting covered a range of issues, the discussion's main focus was NATO operations, NATO reform, and maintaining defence capabilities in a time of fiscal austerity across the Alliance.

"The meetings with my NATO counterparts served to lay the groundwork for the NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012. Canada's priority is to ensure that the Alliance remains operationally effective, with flexible, deployable, and sustainable capabilities to meet its core objectives," said Minister MacKay.

Minister MacKay also took this opportunity to discuss other issues such as the recently leaked NATO report. "Canada is aware of and concerned with alleged ties between extremist groups, including the Taliban, and members of Pakistan's intelligence services. We are concerned about safe havens for insurgents along the Afghan/Pakistani border, but the legitimacy of the report's assessment is doubtful," said Minister MacKay.

"There are 950 Canadian Forces trainers and support personnel working as part of a UN-mandated, NATO-led mission to train the Afghan National Security Forces to confront and fight extremist groups. Our troops are doing good work in a challenging mission, one that has inherent security risks. Afghan Security Forces are growing in confidence, ability and numbers every day."

"Our commitment to transatlantic and global security is underscored by our track record of commitment. After 10 years of combat in Afghanistan, we continue to support the ISAF mission with troops that are well trained and well prepared. We were also a key player in the recent, successful NATO-led operation in Libya, and we continue to provide naval support to NATO's operations in the Mediterranean," concluded Minister MacKay.

As a prelude to the Chicago Summit, the NATO Defence Ministers meeting advanced ongoing work on issues that are central to the Alliance. These issues include NATO's post-2014 engagement in Afghanistan and ongoing operations, the importance of following through with necessary institutional reforms, and the urgent need to consider ways of maintaining the defence capabilities needed to respond to the security challenges of today and tomorrow.

The next meeting of NATO Defence Ministers will take place in Brussels in April 2012 in a joint session with NATO Foreign Ministers. The Chicago Summit is to take place on 20-21 May 2012.

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