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Defense Secretary Mattis meets with ASEAN counterparts to discuss defense, security challenges

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and his 10 counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus met Monday at the former Clark Air Base in the Philippines to discuss mutual security challenges and their multilateral defense cooperation.

Mattis emphasized the importance of continued cooperation among the international community to apply diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to fully implement all United Nations Security Council resolutions.

They also discussed the need to increase cooperation in countering violent extremism and discussed threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and returning foreign fighters.

Mattis expressed appreciation for U.S.-ASEAN security cooperation and encouraged increased operational cooperation on maritime security challenges. The secretary offered continued cooperation in marmite domain awareness and information sharing to address regional security threats.

He also stressed that the nations should increase the scope and complexity of exercises, and discussed how the United States is working with partners to help build maritime security capacity in the region.

Mattis also met with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea for the ninth Trilateral Defense Ministerial meeting in the Philippines to discuss North Korea, regional security and increased security cooperation.

The ministers condemned North Korea’s provocative actions and called on the nation to stop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, to cease its provocative actions, and to follow international obligations and commitments.

The three leaders highlighted the importance of information sharing and committed to continuing missile warning and anti-submarine warfare exercises. They also reaffirmed that freedom of navigation and overflight need to be ensured and that all disputes should be resolved peacefully in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law.

Mattis also met one-on-one with the defense minister of Japan as well with the defense minister of North Korea to discuss security challenges and continued cooperation.

Kevin Randolph

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