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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the defense ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met in Honolulu, Hawaii, this week to discuss increased partnerships with nations in the region as well as with disaster-relief organizations. Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, told the group that according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Asia-Pacific region is hit by more than 70 percent of the world’s natural disasters, which have cost global society 30,000 lives and approximately $300 billion in the last two years alone. In addition to partnerships with environmental and aid agencies, Hagel also stressed the importance of cooperation between nations to strengthen “regional security architecture that can address shared challenges,” according to an op-ed he wrote for Defense One on Monday. “We also focused on our military-to-military relationships and joint exercises that we continue to strengthen and deepen and widen. … It is trade, it's exchanges, it's about free people,” said Hagel in an April 3 release. He also said the United States would continue to play a role in defending its allies and championing laws and practices that promote regional security and prosperity.