The Honorable Peter MacKay, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, the Honorable Leon E. Panetta, U.S. Secretary of Defense, General Guillermo Galván Galván, Mexican Secretary of National Defence, and Admiral Mariano Francisco Saynez Mendoza, Mexican Secretary of the Navy, met today in Ottawa for the inaugural trilateral meeting of North American Defence Ministers. The Ministers issued the following statement on their meeting:
“By virtue of our geography, our peoples, and our trading relationship, our three nations share many defense interests. Threats to North America and the hemisphere are increasingly complex and require non-traditional responses. Building upon the trilateral collaboration under the North American Leaders Summit process, we share a determination to enhance our common understanding of those threats and of the approaches needed to address them.
“Our countries are committed to working together to address challenges in the region. We know that transnational threats require transnational responses. With this in mind, we have agreed to enhance our cooperation to support efforts to counter transnational criminal organizations and to respond to natural disasters in the hemisphere.
“Our meeting today has established the framework necessary to build North America’s resilience by pursuing a practical agenda built on sustained trilateral cooperation on issues related to defense. As part of our initial work plan, we intend to:
· Develop a joint trilateral defense threat assessment for North America to deepen our common understanding of the threats and challenges we face.
· Explore ways to improve our support to the efforts of civilian public security agencies in countering illicit activities in our respective countries and the hemisphere, such as narcotics trafficking.
· Explore how we can collaborate to increase the speed and efficiency with which our armed forces support civilian-led responses to disasters.
· Continue to work together to strengthen hemispheric defence forums.
“We have agreed to meet on a regular basis in order to build on today’s historic meeting and continue our cooperation in addressing shared continental threats.
“We will pursue this trilateral agenda respectful of national sovereignty and in coordination with other agencies in our respective governments. The results of our meeting will be conveyed to our respective leaders in advance of the upcoming North American Leaders Summit.”