Mongolian coal exports plunge to 2.5 million t in Nov

Mongolia’s exports of lignite and bituminous coal in November slumped by 38% on month or 15% on year to 2.46 million tonnes, data released by the country’s National Statistical Office on December 12 show, a decline which underscored the impact that tighter controls at China-Mongolia border checkpoints are having on Mongolian deliveries.
China buys almost all Mongolian coal for external sales and beginning in mid-November, China’s General Administration of Customs began slowing the clearance of Mongolian coal as part of a strategy launched by Beijing to ensure that China’s total coal imports for 2018 fall below last year’s level, as reported. 


East Turkestan, Tibet & Southern Mongolia: Joint Statement From Rights Groups Calls for Global Pressure on China Over Treatment of the Uyghurs

On the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 21 right groups called out China as a significant actor against the advancement of human rights, highlighting its policies toward the ethnic Uyghur population. The statement additionally highlights Chinese right’s abuses in Tibet, which they refer to as a Chinese “laboratory for repression”.  Finally, it mentions China’s Inner Mongolia province, which is subjected to a tightening of political control and a threatening of the traditional values and practices of the region. The statement calls upon the international community to stand up as one against Beijing for human rights, democracy and freedom of speech.

The article below was published by Radio Free Asia
Rights groups called on the international community to “stand up to the Chinese government” over rights violations against Uyghurs, Tibetans and other ethnic minorities Monday [10 December 2018] in a joint statement marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The 21 groups—including Munich-based World Uyghur Congress and U.S.-based International Tibet Network—called China a United Nations member state that “stands out as a significant exception against the advancement of human rights,” highlighting its policies over the past year in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where Uyghurs have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.
Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in re-education camps throughout the XUAR, and some 1.1 million people are believed to have been held in the network—equating to 10 to 11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the region.
The groups said Monday [10 December 2018] that China’s escalation against the Uyghur people in the last year under Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo “surely qualifies as one of the most audacious and outrageous assaults against a people, anywhere in the world” since the UDHR was enacted by the U.N. on Dec. 10, 1948 and established, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.
They also highlighted China’s rights abuses in Tibet, which they referred to as “China’s laboratory for repression … where the Chinese authorities have tested, and sought to perfect, systems of mass surveillance and abject control” over the course of decades, and particularly under Chen, who ran Tibet from 2011 up until his appointment to oversee the XUAR in 2016.
Ethnic Mongolians in China’s Inner Mongolia are also subject to “tightening political control,” the groups said, where Beijing’s policies are “threatening the total eradication of the Mongolian traditional nomadic civilization,” and where thousands of herders seeking to defend their way of life and rights to land and natural resources have been detained without due legal process.
Even lawyers and activists from China’s majority Han Chinese population have endured politically motivated prosecutions, while freedoms in Hong Kong have “taken a sharp downward turn” as China influences harsher sentences on dissidents and disqualifies pro-democracy lawmakers from the legislature, they noted.
But the groups said that as China attempts to repress these people, the more their resistance grows, and called for the international community to “follow their example and stand up to the Chinese government.”
“Like-minded world governments need to get together and formally engage in joint initiatives to defend … human rights, democracy and free speech and stand up to Beijing as one,” the groups said.
Concerns in Monday’s statement were echoed in a report issued by U.S.-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), which also identified Chen as the architect of repressive policies in the XUAR modeled on those he had rolled out as party boss in Tibet.
“In framing ethnic (Tibetan and later Uyghur) identity as a threat to national security, Chen pursued a two-pronged approach to manage the threat of ethnic identity: He launched a campaign to accelerate assimilation by ‘breaking ethnic lineages and cultural roots,’ and he built a sophisticated and coercive security architecture to enforce assimilation,” ICT said in a statement accompanying its report.
“Chen’s strategy to isolate Tibetans from the outside world, sow distrust and fear in communities, and enforce a state version of acceptable Tibetan life received positive recognition and was deemed politically capable and reliable enough for Chen to take on the difficult position of party secretary for the XUAR.”
ICT noted that while differences in religious roots and transnational links will lead to different manifestations of state repression in Tibet and the XUAR, Chen’s model of repression uses the same features of wide-scale ethnic discrimination backed by a sophisticated security network.
“On a more general level, the status of Chen’s strategy as a model of governance presents a serious challenge for Tibetans, Uyghurs and Chinese citizens who wish to express their cultural identities free from state interference,” the group said, calling on the international community to “push back in a robust manner against the Chinese government.”
In an editorial written for the Hong Kong Free Press on Monday [10 December 2018], Louisa Greve, director of external affairs for U.S.-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, invoked a passage from the UDHR which states that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
“The Chinese Communist Party, in its treatment of the Uyghurs, is actively shaking that foundation,” she said.
“While many governments have come to expect a free pass on human rights abuse, the Chinese Communist Party is among those flouting international norms with greatest confidence. Nothing more clearly illustrates the trampling of civilized values than the rounding up of Uyghurs into modern-day concentration camps.”
Greve pressed for the use of sanctions to pressure China over its rights violations in the XUAR under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act—based on an earlier act created to address human rights abuses by the Putin regime in Russia.
In late August, Republican Representative Chris Smith led a bipartisan group of nearly 20 U.S. lawmakers in writing a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, urging them to level sanctions against officials, including Chen, and entities in China deemed responsible for abusing the rights of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the XUAR.
While Beijing initially denied the existence of re-education camps, the chairman of the XUAR government, Shohrat Zakir, told China’s official Xinhua news agency in October that the facilities are an effective tool to protect the country from terrorism and provide vocational training for Uyghurs. 
China’s state media have followed Zakir’s remarks with a massive propaganda campaign promoting the camps, while foreign reporters investigating Xinjiang have reported constant harassment by authorities. Uyghur activists called on China to prove the facilities are for vocational training by opening them up to visitors.
Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media organizations has shown that those held in the camps are detained against their will, are subjected to political indoctrination and rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.
Last week, Scott Busby, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State, said there are “at least 800,000 and possibly up to a couple of million” of Uyghurs and others detained at re-education camps in the XUAR without charges, citing U.S. intelligence assessments.
Citing credible reports, U.S. lawmakers Marco Rubio and Chris Smith, who head the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China, recently called the situation in the XUAR “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”


Mongolia's industrial output rises 19.5 pct in first 11 months

ULAN BATOR, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia's industrial output rose 19.5 percent in the first 11 months this year, compared to the same period last year, official data showed Wednesday.
The industrial output amounted to 14.1 trillion Mongolian Tugriks (over 5.3 billion U.S. dollars) in the January-November period, according to the data released by the National Statistical Office.
Output of the main mining products increased by 18.3 percent year on year, which is a key engine of industrial production growth in Mongolia.
In particular, raw coal production increased by 57.9 percent, and iron ore production rose 3.3 percent year-on-year in the period.
Mining is the main industry of the landlocked Asian country. Currently, the industry accounts for about a quarter of the mineral-rich nation's gross domestic product and about 90 percent of exports.


ASX listed and Mongolia focussed coal developer, Aspire Mining, has wrapped up a $15m financing package for its Ovoot coking coal project in the northwest of the country. The company is now debt free and fully funded through to the completion of all required feasibility studies to fast track development of the deposit which contains a high-grade, premium, metallurgical coking coal JORC-compliant ore reserve of 255 million tonnes. Aspire management said it had appointed two experienced consultants to deliver the Ovoot pre-feasibility studies on an expediated basis, with results expected in January 2019.
This work will focus on a high quality, low ash, low strip ratio carve out from the existing Ovoot ore reserve, concentrating on extraction and processing of the premium Ovoot upper seam. Specifically, the feasibility studies will be underpinned by open pit optimisation studies and coal handling preparation plant design work for a starter pit on this section of the Ovoot ore body. Other feasibility work will be undertaken into the construction of a haul road and associated infrastructure from the Ovoot deposit to a rail head at Erdenet, about 550km to the east. Aspire has secured a 12 month option to acquire a terminal area at Erdenet to handle coal deliveries after operational start-up at Ovoot.
The company expects that the initial early development plan for Ovoot will substantially reduce the CAPEX costs and shorten project scheduling to achieve first cashflows from the asset much sooner.
Forecast logistic capacities are currently limited by the existing Mongolian rail network in the region, with production from Ovoot expected to top out in a range of 3 million to 4 million tonnes per annum. Aspire raised the funds through the issue of $10m worth of ordinary Aspire shares to Mongolian businessman Mr Tserenpuntsag at 2.1c, who is now the company’s largest shareholder with about 27% of the issued stock. Mongolian shareholders now account for about 33% of Aspire’s register and this will no doubt help to provide strategic and financial support, which will materially de-risk delivery of the project.
In addition, Aspire issued shares at 2.1c to the Noble Group to the value of $2.4m, which is a debt to equity arrangement aimed at repaying debt and accrued interest to the Hong Kong-based commodities trader. A further $1.7m is being raised at 2.1c to other investors, with the company saying that it had already received binding pre-commitments for about $1m. Aspire Executive Chairman Mr David Paull said: “It is very pleasing that Aspire is now in a strong financial position with no borrowings … I thank our strategic shareholders, Mr Tserenpuntsag and Noble Group, for their support in achieving this financing outcome.”
“Their ongoing support, together with that of our broader shareholder base, reflects the attractiveness of the OEDP. We look forward to delivering the OEDP feasibility details in early 2019 and quickly progressing towards first coking coal production.” There are bigger plans afoot for Aspire too in northern Mongolia, where it also owns a smaller 12.9 million tonne coal resource at Nuurstei, located 160km east of Ovoot and closer to the rail head at Erdenet.
In June, the Chinese and Russian Governments reached an agreement allowing Mongolian-sourced freight to enjoy a tariff discount on the Russian rail system for its exports to and via Russia for 25 years. Under the arrangement, Mongolian coal exports will receive a 66.4% discount on the Russian rail system to the north of Mongolia, which provides an alternative route to seaborne markets to that offered by China. Aspire has been watching these developments closely, which are likely to be very positive when factored into its larger game plan in Mongolia. The proposed hefty tariff reductions on coal transported via rail through Russia will place the Russian option on a much more even economic keel with the proposed transportation into China to the south.

On the face of it, the new spirit of cooperation between Mongolia and Russia and indirectly China, comes at a significant time for Aspire and almost by default, is enhancing the potential viability of its coking coal projects.
On the face of it, the new spirit of cooperation between Mongolia and Russia and indirectly China, comes at a significant time for Aspire and almost by default, is enhancing the potential viability of its coking coal projects.

Three Korean organizations to launch reforestation project in Mongolia

SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's overseas aid agency said Wednesday that it will join hands with a domestic bank and a nongovernmental organization in working to prevent desertification in Mongolia, one of the origins of fine dust particles that flow onto the Korean Peninsula.
Heads of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), KB Kookmin Bank and Green Asia, a Seoul-based NGO fighting against climate change, signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding on cooperation over climate change in Mongolia, KOICA officials said.

The MOU came after KOICA adopted Green Asia's proposal for reforestation of Mongolia's desert areas and income increases for local victims of desertification.
KB Kookmin Bank joined the effort to maximize the effects of the anti-desertification project, the officials explained.
Under the MOU, the three Korean entities will plant 100,000 fruit trees in seven areas around Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, for five years from 2019, they said.
In addition, the fruit produced from the new trees will be processed and sold to help increase the incomes of about 600 residents in the areas.
Lee Mi-kyung, president of KOICA, said at the signing ceremony that the MOU is a new milestone that combines the government agency with expertise, creativity and financial resources of private partners.

Projects launched to boost China, Mongolia publication partnership

The Chinese Culture Translation and Studies Support Network (CCTSS) of the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU), together with the NEPKO Press and other Mongolian publishing organizations launched the CCTSS Sino-Mongolian International Publishing Exchange Platform and Sino-Mongolian Translation Workshop in Mongolian Embassy in China on Dec. 10, 2018.
Under the framework of the two projects, CCTSS will be authorized by the NEPKO Press and the BEAM Press to exclusively represent all their business in China.
Xu Baofeng (center), head of the CCTSS and a professor at BLCU, attends the launch ceremony of the CCTSS Sino-Mongolian International Publishing Exchange Platform and Sino-Mongolian Translation Workshop in Mongolian Embassy in China on Dec. 10, 2018. [Photo courtesy of CCTSS]

Mongolian Ambassador to China Damba Gankhuyag said at the launch ceremony that the granting of the sole agency in China is a historical event. 
"It proves that Chinese and Mongolian companies are deepening their cooperation; the business models are expanding and people-to-people ties are getting closer," the ambassador said.
He said that China-Mongolia relations, including booming trade, economic and cultural cooperation, has been both solid and vigorous in recent years. He believes today's cooperative projects between the two countries will help lift China-Mongolia cooperation to a new high.
He added that during the second meeting of the Joint Committee on China-Mongolia People-to-People Exchanges to be held in January next year, both sides will discuss the current mechanism as well as exploring possible future cooperation fields.
The first meeting of the Joint Committee on China-Mongolia People-to-People Exchanges was held in Beijing at the beginning of this year. The aim of the mechanism is to coordinate exchanges and cooperation in people-to-people and cultural fields between the two countries through this mechanism, cement the friendly social basis of both sides and push forward the development of the China-Mongolia comprehensive strategic partnership.
Xu Baofeng, head of the CCTSS and a professor at BLCU, said that the launch of today's projects will help cement the friendly social basis of both sides and draw closer the ties between the two peoples.
"China and Mongolia are neighboring countries. Previously we could only find good pieces of work randomly. With the launch of the CCTSS Sino-Mongolian International Publishing Exchange Platform and the Sino-Mongolian Translation Workshop, the good works of the two countries can be translated and published rapidly," Xu said.

Mongolian Ambassador to China Damba Gankhuyag speaks at the launch ceremony of the CCTSS Sino-Mongolian International Publishing Exchange Platform and Sino-Mongolian Translation Workshop in Mongolian Embassy in China on Dec. 10, 2018. [Photo courtesy of CCTSS]

According to Chagedeer Surong, director of Mongolian Language Committee, CCTSS, the history of CCTSS's cooperation with Mongolian publishing agencies can be dated back to 2015 when with the help from the Mongolian Embassy in China, NEPKO Publishing House and other Mongolian publishing organizations established cooperation with CCTSS. Their smooth cooperation has led to the translation and publication of the popular Chinese novel Empresses in the Palace, Dream of the Wolf King and other books into Mongolian. 

Interview: Mongolia's long-term economic outlook is promising -- ADB country director

LAN BATOR, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia's long-term economic outlook is promising, Yolanda Fernandez Lommen, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) country director for Mongolia said.
"The Mongolian economic growth is forecast to reach 6.4 percent this year and 6.1 percent next year," Lommen told Xinhua in a recent interview.
This growth is largely driven by massive foreign direct investment in the country's Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine, estimated at 1.1 billion U.S. dollars in each year respectively, she explained.
"This is remarkable because the country was a in a deep economic crisis just a couple of years ago," the country director said.
The Oyu Tolgoi mine, located in a gobi desert 80 km north of Mongolia's border with China, is expected to produce 430,000 tons of copper and 425,000 ounces (about 12,050 kg) of gold annually for 20 years.
The contribution of mining to growth is projected to turn positive in 2018 and be higher in 2019, Lommen said, adding that the construction sector is to recover along with increasing mining activities, she said.
Domestic consumption will be supported by an increase in government expenditures, household incomes and consumer confidence gained from economic recovery, Lommen said.
The ADB projects an average inflation at 7.2 percent in 2018 and 7.0 percent in 2019, close to the government's target of 8.0 percent.
Lommen said that rising domestic demand, oil and global food prices as well as effects from a looser monetary policy last year has driven higher inflation in 2018.
Fiscal policy will remain expansionary in 2019, with rigorous tax reforms supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Upbeat about Mongolian's long-term economic prospects, the ADB country director said:"large ongoing mining projects are expected to turn the balance of the fiscal budget and the balance of payments into surpluses in the years ahead."
Meanwhile, she stressed that for a mining-dependent economy like Mongolia, "more is needed" apart from well taping its mineral wealth.
In addition to economic diversification and higher productivity, more efforts should be made to ensure macroeconomic stability as well as sustainable and inclusive growth of its economy.

Ri Yong Ho in Ulaanbaatar: where the DPRK-Mongolia relationship goes from here

Mongolia continues its push to serve as a third-party mediator

By Anthony V. Rinna 

Wrapping up a year of 70th anniversary celebrations, North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho traveled to Mongolia this weekend following a visit to Beijing.
The visit, intended to mark seven decades of relations between Ulaanbaatar and Pyongyang, saw Ri hold discussions with his Mongolian counterpart Damdin Tsogtbaatar over DPRK-Mongolia bilateral ties as well as security issues on the Korean peninsula.

Ri Yong Ho in Ulaanbaatar: where the DPRK-Mongolia relationship goes from here
Ri’s visit to Mongolia comes two months after Ulaanbaatar issued a formal invitation to Kim Jong Un. In February of this year, too, Damdin Tsogtbaatar visited Pyongyang.
Though no longer based on a shared ideology, the Mongolia-North Korea relationship is nevertheless in a healthy state.
This isn’t so much because of shared values as it is because of coinciding interests. As Pyongyang-Ulaanbaatar ties have remained stable since 1948, Ri’s journey to Mongolia offers a chance to observe what keeps the relationship between the DPRK and Mongolia smooth, as well as what Ulaanbaatar can bring to the table in helping to address issues in Korean security.
During the Cold War, Mongolia and North Korea enjoyed a degree of solidarity as two small communist states caught between giants China and the USSR.
Nevertheless, as Balázs Szalontai asserts, relations between the DPRK and Mongolia were not always founded on ideologically solid ground. The two states often experienced diplomatic tensions. Szalontai nevertheless asserts that the DPRK and Mongolian People’s Republic tried as much as possible maintain façade of communist solidarity.
Following the end of communism in Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar pursued a highly independent foreign policy. Responding to then-U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III’s invitation to Mongolia to consider the US its “third neighbor”, Ulaanbaatar reached out across Eurasia in search of relationships in order to avoid domination by either China or Russia.
As far as the Korean peninsula is concerned, this policy of neutrality has taken the form of maintaining diplomatic “equidistance” between Pyongyang and Seoul.
The nature of contemporary Mongolia-North Korea ties have changed with the post-Cold War political shifts in Northeast Asia. Today, in search of friends beyond its giant neighbors, North Korea views Mongolia as a harmless country with which it can leverage ties. In turn, Mongolia is keen to utilize its own small stature to promote itself as a fount of small country diplomacy that can play a constructive role in global crises.
Though Mongolia attempts to portray itself as a neutral and responsible international player, Ulaanbaatar’s relationship with the DPRK has complicated Mongolia’s response to North Korean refugees. Nevertheless, Ulaanbaatar has engaged in humanitarian outreach to the DPRK – in 2013 Mongolia provided North Korea with emergency food supplies in response to food shortages in North Korea.
In recent years in particular, Mongolia has engaged in several high-level exchanges with North Korea. Then-DPRK foreign minister Ri Su Yong visited Ulaanbaatar in February 2015. The meeting led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries.
Even in the face of increasingly stringent sanctions against Pyongyang, Ulaanbaatar is eager to continue developing economic ties with the DPRK. Landlocked but with abundant natural resource wealth, Mongolia has made moves to use the North Korean port of Rason to transport goods to foreign markets.
Indeed, as discussions continue over linking North and South Korea to Russia via rail lines, Mongolia also has potential for connecting to rail lines that traverse the Korean peninsula.
One potential multilateral format for cooperation is the ROK’s “New Northern Policy”
The geographic separation between the DPRK and Mongolia, to say nothing of either country’s relative lack of economic prowess, is bound to limit the potential of economic collaboration between Pyongyang and Ulaanbaatar. The need to involve other countries in Mongolia-North Korea trade relations, if for nothing more than logistical purposes, means that an economic partnership between the DPRK and Mongolia will most likely be best served in a multilateral format.
Indeed, one potential multilateral format for cooperation is the ROK’s “New Northern Policy“, which includes Mongolia as a prospective partner, along with North Korea.
Since the end of the Cold War, Mongolia has been a staunch advocate of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. In 1992, Mongolia declared itself to be a nuclear weapons-free zone. Despite Mongolia’s positive relations with North Korea, Ulaanbaatar’s anti-nuclear policy has prompted Mongolia to speak out against the DPRK’s nuclear weapons complex.
Yet Mongolian outspokenness has not caused a major disruption in Mongolia-North Korean relations. Both North Korea and Mongolia believe that that latter can play a positive role in Korean security.  
The visit saw the two sides agree to continue improving ties| Photo: Mongolian foreign ministry
Furthermore, the idea of a positive role for Mongolia in Korea’s security quandary is not limited to officials in either Pyongyang or Ulaanbaatar: U.S. officials have also endorsed the idea of greater Mongolian participation in multilateral discussions over the North Korean security crisis.
Stemming from its policy of strict neutrality, Mongolia seeks to present itself in Northeast Asia as an even-handed actor.
This is partially due to Mongolia’s vulnerability due to being landlocked between China and Russia. Overt alliance with either one of these countries risks Mongolia losing its hard-won independence, while explicit alignment with China and Russia’s rival the United States would risk agitating Beijing or Moscow.
Mongolia has been offered up as a potential role model for North Korean disarmament
Mongolia, therefore, has sought to use its status as a neutral and non-threatening country to act as a resource for diplomacy and negotiations over regional security issues.
This has allowed Mongolia to pursue its “third neighbor policy”, both as a way of building a rapport with major powers as well as with smaller states such as Japan and South Korea, while not aligning with any single country or group of states.  
Aside from Ulaanbaatar actively participating in regional diplomacy, Mongolia has been offered up as a potential role model for North Korean disarmament. Mongolia’s status as a nuclear weapons-free state, one that is surrounded by major powers and utterly defenseless against them to boot, may provide a basis for a similar multilateral arrangement in Northeast Asia.
Others have argued that North Korea could draw upon Mongolia’s experience in democratizing and absconding nuclear weapons while maintaining delicate balanced diplomacy.  
After 70 years Mongolia-North Korea ties have proven themselves strong, even as Mongolia views its ties with the DPRK as part of a wider balancing strategy. For the DPRK, Mongolia may not be an ally, but it is at least something of a friend.
For these reasons, the bilateral DPRK-Mongolia relationship will not likely be of any major consequence in and of itself. The future of Mongolia-North Korea relations, rather, will likely be most pronounced in a multilateral format, whether in economics or security.  
Edited by Oliver Hotham

N. Korea, Mongolia agree to boost bilateral ties

SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea and Mongolia agreed to boost their bilateral ties, Pyongyang's state media reported on Sunday.
According to the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong-ho and his Mongolian counterpart, Damdin Tsogtbaatar, exchanged views on cooperation in fields, such as trade and politics.
On Friday, the North Korean minister met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, during which Xi reaffirmed his country's strong bilateral relations with Pyongyang.
Mongolia and North Korea established diplomatic relations in 1948.

North Korean, Mongolian foreign ministers agree to boost ties

ULAN BATOR (Kyodo) -- The Mongolian Foreign Ministry announced Sunday that Foreign Minister Damdin Tsogtbaatar and his visiting North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho exchanged views on the further development of bilateral ties in talks held the previous day in the capital.    
Ri was quoted as saying that Pyongyang is striving for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and that "trust in the region is indispensable."     Tsogtbaatar lauded the concrete progress made toward peace and stability of the region through the efforts of the countries involved and stressed the importance of resolving problems through talks. He also urged North Korea to take further steps toward denuclearization.    
On Friday, Ri told Chinese President Xi Jinping in a meeting in Beijing that Pyongyang's commitment to denuclearization has not changed, ahead of a potential second summit between the North and the United States early next year.    
The two sides celebrated the successful development of bilateral relations in culture, education, sports and humanities, and agreed on the possibility of future cooperation in the socioeconomic sphere.    
North Korea and Mongolia are this year marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.    
Ri arrived in Mongolia on Saturday for a two-day visit on a tour that has already taken him to Vietnam, Syria and China. All four countries have a traditionally friendly relationship with North Korea.

Mongolia, DPRK agree to further expand ties

Mongolian Foreign Minister Damdin Tsogtbaatar and his Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, have agreed to further strengthen bilateral ties between their countries, the Mongolian Foreign Ministry said Sunday. 

Ri arrived in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator on Saturday for a two-day visit at the invitation of the Mongolian foreign minister. 

The two foreign ministers exchanged views on expanding bilateral cooperation at the regional and international levels and in various sectors such as politics, trade, sports and education, and other issues of mutual concern, the ministry said in a statement. 

During the talks, Tsogtbaatar said that all relevant parties should cooperate closely to realize a completely denuclearized Korean Peninsula and solve any controversial issues in the region through negotiations. 

For his part, Ri said that the DPRK adheres to the denuclearization of the peninsula, noting that strengthening mutual trust is now crucial in the region. 

Mongolia and the DPRK established diplomatic ties in 1948.

Air China contributes to development of China-Mongolia ties

ULAN BATOR, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Air China as well as its Beijing-Ulan Bator direct route has contributed significantly to the promotion of tourism and people-to-people exchanges between China and Mongolia, a general manager of Air China has said.
"As China-Mongolia relations and cooperation have been expanding rapidly in a wide range of areas, the number of people choosing to travel via Air China's Beijing-Ulan Bator direct route has been growing," General Manager of Air China in Ulan Bator Otgon Amgalan told Xinhua on Friday.
The general manager made the remarks during a promotion event of the company which aimed at further increasing exchanges between the two countries.
"Mongolia is one of China's close neighbors. Also, the country is one of the main countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)," said Amgalan, adding that the company has made great efforts to develop bilateral ties, the BRI and Mongolia's Prairie Road development initiative.
Meanwhile, the general manager said that Air China has played a positive role in fostering humanitarian relations between the two countries by offering services to poor Mongolian patients.
The company recently provided half-price tickets for 28 Mongolian children suffering from congenital heart disease who went to Beijing to receive free surgeries, and their parents.
"Next year, our two countries are set to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations," said Amgalan. "We are ready to do everything possible to make more contributions to the further development of bilateral cooperation between the two countries."
Air China has commenced its operations in Mongolia in 1991 by starting its first direct flight from Ulan Bator to Beijing.
Last year, more than 95,000 passengers took the Beijing-Ulan Bator flight, up more than 30 percent compared with five years ago.

One of the Bay Area’s Only Mongolian Restaurants Closes

After less than three years, Togi’s Mongolian Cuisine has quietly closed in downtown Oakland. As documented by Luke Tsai in the East Bay Express, it was one of few true Mongolian restaurants in the entire country — SF’s Mongol Cafe in Lower Nob Hill and Great Mongolia Nomads Restaurant in the Inner Richmond weren’t open yet at the time, but even those spots don’t serve 100 percent Mongolian food.
Togi’s was not a so-called “Mongolian barbecue restaurant” (spoiler: not actually Mongolian), nor did it serve Mongolian hot-pot, which was actually invented in China. Instead, it served traditional dumplings, fried meat pockets, stir-fried noodles, and lots of beef and lamb. (Some of those dishes can be found at the aforementioned San Francisco restaurants, but alongside sushi and bagel sandwiches.)
A sign is already up for the space’s next incarnation: Elephant Sushi, as in the popular family-owned group of Japanese restaurants with locations in Russian Hill, the Tenderloin, and Civic Center.

Mongolian sumo wrestler retires over assault

TOKYO (AP) — Mongolian sumo wrestler Takanoiwa has decided to retire after assaulting a younger wrestler during the ongoing regional tour in the latest blow to Japan's national sport.
Takanoiwa, 28, who last year was a victim of assault that led to the resignation of compatriot and grand champion Harumafuji, hit a lower-ranked wrestler at a hotel in Fukuoka on Tuesday, the Japan Sumo Association said.
The wrestler did not sustain a major injury but has swelling on his face after being hit four or five times with an open hand and fist, the JSA said.
Takanoiwa, whose real name is Adiyagiin Baasandorj, was hit with a remote control device in a bar by fellow Mongolian Harumafuji on Oct. 26 last year, which led to the grand champion's retirement the following month.
Sumo has been rocked by a series of scandals in recent years as it attempts to maintain its popularity.

Indonesia, Mongolia agree to increase bilateral trade

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and Mongolia have agreed to increase trade relations by boosting exports and imports, Indonesian Ambassador to China and Mongolia Djauhari Oratmangun stated.

Indonesia, Mongolia agree to increase bilateral trade
ndonesia's ambassador to China and Mongolia Djauhari Oratmangun (right) extends a souvenir to the chairman of Mongolia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry Lkhagvajav Baatarjav at an Indonesia-Mongolia Business Forum in di Ulaanbaatar on Friday (7/12/2018). The two countries agreed to increase trade relations. ANTARA FOTO/M. Irfan llmie/hp.ANTARA FOTO/M.

"Right now, the value of our trade with Mongolia is relatively small, and we need to increase it," he stated at a business forum held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, on Friday.

Trade between Indonesia and Mongolia has shown a downward trend in the past four years, he pointed out.

Trade between the two countries had reached US$20.78 million in 2017. The figure rose to $26.01 million the following year, but it plunged to $5.93 million in 2015.

In 2016, the bilateral trade moved up again to $17.45 million and fell slightly to $17.37 million in 2017.

The trade is projected to decline to $9.5 million this year.

Deputy Director General of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of the Mongolian Foreign Ministry Battsetseg Tuvshintugs admitted to the low value of the bilateral trade.

"The time has come for us to increase trade relations again," she stated at the forum.

Mongolia is in need of huge quantities of medicines and other pharmaceutical products from Indonesia, she stated.

On the occasion, Beijing-based Antara journalist took time to introduce the Indonesian news agency`s products to officials of the Mongolian Foreign Ministry and local businessmen.

Chief of the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Lkhagvajav Baatarjav warmly welcomed the presence of Antara in Mongolia.

"Of course, we are pleased to hear that our country is known by the Indonesian people. Maybe, we will pass on the outcome of the meeting to the leadership of (the Mongolian news agency) Montsami," he added.

Mongolian parliament speaker asks PM to stop boycotting parliamentary sessions

ULAN BATOR, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Mongolian parliament speaker Miyegombo Enkhbold on Friday submitted an official demand letter to the country's prime minister, asking to stop boycotting plenary sessions of the parliament.
The demand letter came after the Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh and his government's 13 ministers adjourned the plenary sessions of the parliament on Thursday and Friday.
"We planned to discuss many important issues, especially the appointment of the new Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry during the sessions. However, you and your ministers did not intentionally attend the sessions and not officially present the proposal to appoint the minister," the letter said, demanding an immediate end to the parliamentary boycott.
Mongolia's former Food, Agriculture and Light Industry Minister Batjargal Batzorig was dismissed from his post late October due to a scandal involving financial irregularities.
Khurelsukh and his ministers has not explained the cause of the boycott, while the prime minister recently submitted a request to dismiss the parliament speaker to the Constitutional Court.
Audio recordings were made public last year, which indicates that some officials of the Mongolian People's Party, including Enkhbold, allegedly used government positions as a tool to run the parliamentary election in 2016.
According to Khurelsukh, Enkhbold has been interfering in the handling of the case by abusing his power.

North Korean Foreign Minister To Start 2-Day Visit To Mongolia On Saturday

MOSCOW  (Sputnik - 08th December, 2018) North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho will start his two-day visit to Mongolia on Saturday after concluding a visit to China.
Ri is set to discuss bilateral relations as well as cooperation on international and regional matters during talks with Mongolian Foreign Minister Damdin Tsogtbaatar, according to media reports.
The visit is timed to the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between North Koreaand Mongolia.

Plastic waste is a threat to Mongolian saigas

Plastic waste is a threat to rare species of Gobi Desert, not just marine animals. A ranger from Bayan-Uul soum, Gobi-Altai province of Mongolia found a saiga carcass in Khuisiin Gobi of Altai Sayan Ecoregion. According to him, the Mongolian saiga had eaten a plastic bag and the stomach still wasn’t decomposed. In recent years, rural people have been using plastic bags a lot and it’s common to see plastic waste in the Gobi desert. Unfortunately, it is clear that rare animals, such as Mongolian saigas are eating plastic waste due to scarce food.

Plastic waste is a threat to rare species of Gobi Desert, not just marine animals. A ranger from Bayan-Uul soum, Gobi-Altai province of Mongolia found a saiga carcass in Khuisiin Gobi of Altai Sayan Ecoregion. According to him, the Mongolian saiga had eaten a plastic bag and the stomach still wasn’t decomposed. In recent years, rural people have been using plastic bags a lot and it’s common to see plastic waste in the Gobi desert. Unfortunately, it is clear that rare animals, such as Mongolian saigas are eating plastic waste due to scarce food.
In the meantime, WWF-Mongolia initiated “Plastic free rivers” initiative to engage stakeholders in the process of reducing plastic waste from rivers. The start of this initiative has begun in July 2018 to remove plastic waste from the Kherlen River from the eastern part of the country. Within the scope of this work, the community organized large cleanings along the Kherlen River and actively promoting the public awareness of plastic wastes.


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