US Defence Secretary Hagel to embark on Europe Asia trip

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel would embark on a 12-day trip next week to Europe and Asia to discuss key regional and global issues with leaders of several countries, his spokesperson said.

PTI| Last Updated: May 24, 2014, 14:38 PM IST

Washington: US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel would embark on a 12-day trip next week to Europe and Asia to discuss key regional and global issues with leaders of several countries, his spokesperson said.

He would end his trip with the crucial NATO defence ministers meet in Brussels.

"The Secretary`s going to embark on Wednesday on his fourteenth international trip, a 12-day around the world trip focused on Asia and Europe," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters yesterday.

Hagel`s first major stop will be Singapore where he will deliver remarks at the annual Shangri-La dialogue and hold a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings with other ministers of defence.

"This will be his fifth trip to the Asia-Pacific region, and coming on the heels of his successful trip last month to Japan, China, and Mongolia, and is hosting of the ASEAN defence ministers in Hawaii," he said.

"It is an important opportunity to build on the momentum we`ve achieved in strengthening our engagement and our alliances and partnerships in the Pacific region," Kirby said.

From Singapore, the Defence Secretary will travel to Brussels to participate in his fourth NATO defence ministers meeting.

"He views this as a particularly important meeting, of course, as it is the first since Russia`s incursions into Ukraine, and the last before September`s NATO summit in Wales," he said.

Kirby said Hagel believes America`s European allies must use this crisis as an opportunity to revitalise NATO and enhance their commitments to collective defence.

"I certainly expect that that will be a major theme of his discussions while in Brussels," he said.

Hagel will next travel through Romania, a valued NATO ally.

"This visit gives him the opportunity to visit sailors aboard a US Navy ship which will be in port there and to consult bilaterally with Romania`s minister of defence on ways to strengthen NATO`s deterrence," he said.

"And then finally, from Romania, the Secretary will travel to France to participate in the 70th anniversary commemorations of D-Day, with the US President Barack Obama, other cabinet officials, and leaders really from around the world," he said.

"Hagel has been looking forward to paying tribute to the heroes of D-Day for some time, and he will also have the opportunity, while there, to meet bilaterally with his French counterpart," Kirby said.