Minister Mackay Attends NATO Defense Ministerial Meeting

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By IBTimes Staff Reporter | February 23, 2013 7:52 PM EST

Peter Mackay, Canadian Minister of Defense attended the two day North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meeting in Brussels this week where the delegates discussed on how to transform the alliance to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

"NATO continues to transform to meet the challenges of the 21st century and these critical discussions shape the manner through which our alliance will work together to address the defence and security issues that impact us all," said Peter Mackay in a press release Friday.

"Canada's priority at NATO is to continue to work to enhance the core strength of the Alliance as an operationally focused, deployable, and flexible political-military hub," said Mackay.

As the alliance's combat role expires at the end of 2014, the group made a draft proposal of deploying around 15500 troops to Afghanistan during the two-day meeting from February 21 and 22.

"After 2014 envisions a force of up to 9,500 American troops and up to 6,000 more from other coalition nations" reported the New York Times, citing alliance leaders.

At the side lines of the meeting, the Canadian defense minister conducted several bilateral meetings with other defense leaders according to the press release.

Peter Mackay and Philip Hammond, the British Secretary of State for Defense, signed a defense declaration of intent that reaffirmed Canada and the United Kingdom's commitment to strengthening the military relationship.

"Canada and the United Kingdom have long-established, rich, close defense ties that have been reinforced through our history, common heritage, our shared values, and our tradition of working together to build peace and security," said Minister MacKay. "Both of our countries place a high priority on defence and security cooperation, highlighted recently by our close partnership in Afghanistan and Libya, and our common objectives at NATO."

Out of 66,000 American troops, the Obama government had declared to withdraw 34,000 troops from Afghanistan by February 2014.

The Obama government is yet to decide how many American troops will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 according to the Pentagon spokesman George Little.

"The president is still reviewing options and has not made a decision about the size of a possible U.S. presence after 2014, and we will continue to discuss with allies and the Afghans how we can best carry out two basic missions: targeting the remnants of al Qaeda and its affiliates, and training and equipping Afghan forces," Reuters quoted the spokesman as saying.

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