Hagel Discusses Variety of Issues With Italy’s Defense Minister

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2014 – Afghanistan, Syria, Mediterranean security and cooperative efforts such as the joint strike fighter program highlighted a meeting at the Pentagon yesterday between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Italian Defense Minister of Defense Mario Mauro, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Kirby noted that Italy is a key NATO ally and an important leader in addressing global challenges in Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Balkans and North Africa.

“Secretary Hagel praised Italy’s contributions to capacity building in emerging democracies in the Middle East and North Africa,” the admiral said. Italy recently began providing security training to Libyan general purpose forces, and will help to stabilize Afghanistan as a framework nation in Afghanistan’s western region after the current NATO mission concludes at the end of the year, he added.

Hagel also lauded Italy’s role in the international community’s mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, Kirby said. Italy has offered to provide a port to transfer the materials from Danish and Norwegian vessels to the Cape Ray, a U.S. ship that has been specially configured to neutralize the chemical weapons materials at sea.

“Secretary Hagel is thankful for the hospitality Italy provides to the approximately 33,000 U.S. service members, civilians and families who live and work there,” the press secretary said, and looks forward to seeing Mauro in September at NATO’s summit in Wales.

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