19:29 GMT22 February 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Top US and Canadian officials during 2+2 ministerial talks on 14 December discussed enhancing bilateral cooperation on foreign military sales and sanctions coordination, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said at a press conference.

    "Today we focused on enhancing our already strong cooperation in a number of areas, from foreign military sales to sanctions coordination," Mattis said.

    Mattis expressed his gratitude for Ottawa's role in enforcing unanimous UN Security Council Resolution sanctions supporting the denuclearization of North Korea.

    The Pentagon chief also said they discussed bilateral cooperation within North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and countering the Daesh* terrorist group.

    READ MORE: Will Trump Shut Down the US Government Over 'The Wall'?

    On 14 December, the State Department hosted the US-Canada 2+2 Ministerial. Mattis and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo engaged in talks with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Defense chief Harjit Sajjan on bilateral priorities including regional cooperation and joint security initiatives.

    Kerch Strait Incident Discussed During US-Canada Ministerial — Pompeo

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also commented on the meeting during the joint press availability, saying that top US and Canadian officials discussed the Kerch Strait incident at a 2+2 ministerial meeting.

    "We discussed our response to the situation in Ukraine. I expressed my concern over Russia's recent aggression in the sea of Azov," Pompeo said.

    Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland during the same press conference called on Russia to release the Ukrainian sailors arrested by Russia following the incident.

    READ MORE: Russia Allegedly Sends Sub to Kerch Strait as Tensions With Ukraine Soar (PHOTO)

    The mentioned arrest took place on 25 November after Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian vessels were seized by Russia after failing to respond to a demand to stop.

    Following the incident, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree declaring martial law in several Ukrainian regions located near the Russian border. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the incident was a provocation prepared in advance as a pretext to introduce martial law ahead of Ukraine's presidential election.

    *Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia


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    talks, sanctions, Daesh, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Mike Pompeo, James Mattis, Canada, United States, Ukraine
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