U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel after touring DDG 1000, the first of the U.S. Navy's Zumwalt Class of multi-mission guided missile destroyers in Bath, Maine November 21, 2013. Photo by Reuters
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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will join his counterparts from other Western nations and Israel this weekend at the annual Halifax International Security Forum.

Canada's government announced Thursday a new five-year, $9.8 million commitment for the forum.

Forum President Peter Van Praagh calls it the most important foreign policy tool that Canada has. In its fifth year, the forum attracts defense and security officials from Western democracies. About 300 people gather each year in an intimate setting at Halifax's Westin hotel.

Hagel opens the conference with a speech Friday. Defense ministers from France, Israel and Canada will also attend.

The forum features eight plenary sessions, and 28 private sessions on topics such as unstable democracies, drones and the future of terrorism.