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U.S., Canada concerned about Afghan security deal problems

Canada's defence minister and his counterpart in the U.S. are expressing concerns about problems the Americans are having signing a security pact in Afghanistan following discussions at the annual Halifax International Security Forum.

U.S. defence secretary, Canadian defence minister meet at Halifax International Security Forum

U.S. Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson met today to discuss issues related to defence relations. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Canada's defence minister and his counterpart in the U.S. are expressing concerns about problems the Americans are having signing a security pact in Afghanistan.

Chuck Hagel, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, says he needs the deal signed before he recommends to President Barack Obama that U.S. military members continue to risk their lives in the country.

The Americans are trying to work out an agreement with Afghanistan that would lay out how the U.S. military would operate there after next year.

Federal Defence Minister Rob Nicholson says he is also concerned about the negotiations between U.S. officials and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Canada will end its military presence in Afghanistan in March, but the federal government has said it would contribute $100 million annually to support the Afghan military.

Hagel and Nicholson also signed a bilateral agreement to share information about their countries' activities in the Asia Pacific region.

Nicholson says the agreement provides a basis for the two countries to share information with Asian nations, but he provided few other details.

Nicholson and Hagel met Friday at the Halifax International Security Forum, an annual conference that runs from until Sunday, to discuss issues related to defence relations Hagel will give the keynote speech at the forum.

Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay announced Thursday that Ottawa would commit $9.8 million to the forum over the next five years.

The annual conference, which began in 2009, brings together defence and international security experts from around the world to share ideas about the most pressing security challenges.

Other topics up for discussion in Halifax include cybercrime, the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Arctic and Iran's new approach to international relations.

More than 300 delegates from 50 countries are expected to attend, with participants including policy-makers, members of the international media, security analysts, diplomats and business leaders.

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