Biden Visits Mongolia to Boost Trade and Encourage Democracy

Posted August 22nd, 2011 at 2:45 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in Mongolia for a 1-day visit that officials say will feature talks with the nation's leaders on closer economic and defense cooperation.

Biden arrived at midday Monday after a 5-day trip to China. He is the first U.S. vice president to visit Mongolia since 1944, though former president George W. Bush made a brief stopover in 2005.

The United States promised to increase bilateral trade, investment and people-to-people connections with Mongolia ahead of a visit to Washington in June by Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj.

The United States is eager to support Mongolia's rapid transition to multi-party democracy, and has helped to train Mongolian troops for international peace-keeping missions.

An American company, Peabody Energy Corporation, was among several bidders awarded rights in June to help develop Mongolia's Tavan Tolgoi coalfield, one of the world's largest deposits of coking coal. New discoveries of coal, copper and rare earths have the potential to triple Mongolia's GDP over the next decade.

Biden is scheduled to continue Monday evening to Tokyo, where aides say he will express steadfast U.S. support for Japan following the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency. He will also thank U.S. civilian and military personnel who aided the disaster response.

While in China, Biden met with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other top officials for talks that focused on economic issues. He praised China's economic growth, but also expressed confidence in the future of the U.S. economy, by far the world's largest.

Biden's visit comes less than two weeks after an unprecedented U.S. credit downgrade – a move that sparked global concerns about the safety of dollar assets.