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Mongolia's 'rebalance' towards Russia and China

2/09/2014 by


Seeking to transform bilateral ties into a comprehensive strategic partnership, Russia's President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to pay a state visit to Mongolia on September 3. Topping his agenda will be trade and infrastructure. Like neighboring China, Russia is seeking to benefit from Mongolia's globally significant mineral resources, and it is likely to back this by extending financial support for the development of Mongolia's infrastructure which, according to analysts, is Ulan Bator's overriding strategic domestic priority.

Other issues during the visit will revolve around boosting bilateral investment as well as the oft-mooted proposal to build an oil and gas pipeline from Russia to China through Mongolia, say experts.

"Simply by sending a top-level delegation, Russia is sending a signal that it will continue to take an interest in the Central Asian nation, Neil Ashdown, a Mongolia expert and senior Asia-Pacific analyst at IHS, a global information and analytics firm, told DW.

The visit comes less than two weeks after his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping embarked on a two-day trip of the resource-rich nation, becoming the first Chinese head of state to visit the landlocked country in more than a decade. Among other things, China and Mongolia signed a host of trade deals and pledged to almost double their annual bilateral trade to 10 billion USD by 2020. China also agreed to give Mongolia access to ports in its north and northeast, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

Mongolia, a nation about the size of Alaska with a population of some 3 million, relies on Russia for 76 percent of its gasoline and diesel fuel and much of its electric power. Bilateral trade turnover reached more than 1.6 billion USD in 2013, with Moscow playing an important role in the country's coal, silver, and uranium mining sectors.

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