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Published:January 26th, 2011 16:51 EST

Robert Gates to Meet with Canadian Defense Minister

By SOP newswire3

Gates to Meet with Canadian Defense Minister

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2011 " Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates travels to Ottawa, Canada, today to meet with Defense Minister Peter MacKay, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said.

The meeting, which was supposed to be the first trilateral meeting of the North American Defense Ministers, becomes a U.S.-Canada bilateral meeting because Mexico`s defense minister has fallen ill, Morrell said.

This session was originally planned for last July, but had to be postponed due to an outbreak of violence in Mexico, " he added. Now, unfortunately, we`ve received word that due to illness the Mexican secretary of national defense, Gen. Guillermo Galván Galván, will not be able to attend tomorrow`s session as he had hoped, and the trilateral meeting will have to be postponed once again. "

Gates and MacKay will discuss U.S.-Canada defense issues and areas of cooperation, including mutual efforts in Afghanistan, Morrell said, adding that Gates will look for future opportunities to engage with defense leaders in Mexico.

From Ottawa, Gates will fly to Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Neb., to participate in a Jan. 28 change-of-command ceremony for U.S. Strategic Command.

This event will give the secretary a chance to thank [Air Force] Gen. Kevin "Chili` Chilton for his decades of service in the military, " Morrell said, and welcome his successor at Stratcom, Gen. Bob Kehler, who has most recently been commander of Air Force Space Command. "

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also will participate in the change of command, Morrell added.

Mullen will fly to Nebraska from Brussels, where he arrived today to attend the NATO Military Committee`s chiefs of defense meeting. The chairman also met with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Nikolay Makarov, as part of the NATO-Russia Council session that took place today.