MM Interviews top US official

Following his first visit to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, The Mongol Messenger’s Editor-in-Chief, Borkhondoin Indra, interviewed US Deputy Secretary of State, James B. Steinberg on his arrival in Mongolia. The interview with the American delegation in the Foreign Ministry preceded Mr.Steinberg’s meeting with Foreign Minister G.Zandanshatar and Prime Minister S. Batbold. Mr.Steinberg’s Central Asian regional visit is from July 16 to 22.

MM: Mr.Steinberg, what is the purpose of this, your first visit to Central Asia?
JS:First of all, I’m delighted to be here in Mongolia. This is my first visit as a Deputy Secretary, and it’s a reflection of the strong commitment we have built through our good bilateral relationship with Mongolia. It’s in a partnership with us as a democracy and a country that’s moving forward with its own economic-political development. It’s a country we can do so much with and we admire the work that Mongolia is doing in supporting our efforts in Afghanistan and its peacekeeping work around the world.

So, it’s a chance to exchange views about the region and global issues as well strengthening our bilateral relationship.

MM: What issues were discussed in the previous countries visited?
JS: We’ve just spent several days in Central Asia before coming here. I participated in the informal OSCE summitand a number of important issues were raised there including how to deal with the challenges of recent unrest in Kyrgyzstan and our collective effort to help the interim president work there, build reconciliation and reconstruction for the people, as well as strengthening our ties in this very critical region in which the United States has a great deal of interest and support for the efforts of reforming the region. This is a long-term partnership we have with the countries of the region, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and we want to try to build those ties going forward to deal with challenges of Afghanistan, deal with problems of drugs and terrorism in the region, andcreate economic opportunities for the people of the region as well.

MM: What issues are you going to discuss with Prime Minister and Foreign Minister ?
JS:Well, as I said before, we will discuss how we will strengthen our bilateral relationship and reaffirm the United States’ strong interest and commitment to Mongolia as a partner as a fellow democracy, our strong interest in creating a good environment where American businesses can come and invest and work in Mongolia– as we work together expressing appreciation for Mongolia, its deployments to Afghanistan and we will talk about the way forward. We will discuss our cooperation in Gulf peacekeeping and some of the other regional issues of peace and security in North-East Asia.

MM: Is your next stop in Tokyo?
JS: In Tokyo, this will be my first visit since Prime Minister Kan became Prime Minister. So, it’s a chance to talk about the plans of the new government there, to talk about our both bilateral relationship. I’m sure we will spend an important amount of time talking about the challenges of Iran and North Korea which the United States and Japan work very closely on as we move forward. And we’re also having a meeting on our trilateral security dialogue between Australia, Japan and the United States.

MM: How do you see the role of Mongolia in negotiations regarding issues with North Korea?
JS: I think that we know that Mongolia has had historical ties with North Korea. We very much hope that Mongolia will use those relationships to convey the importance of North Korea’s change of course ending the kind of provocative behavior that led to the sinking of the South Korean ship and take the opportunity to move in a different direction and commit to complete demilitarization and a more positive engagement with South Korea and the rest of the 6-party countries. And I think Mongolia can be a very important carrier of that message as a strong democracy. It’s important that North Korea takes a different approach, to open up, to take more interest in well-being and welfare of its own people and tries to create a more peaceful environment on the Korean peninsula.

MM: Thank you Secretary Steinberg for your time and thoughts. We wish you much success in your work and hope you will visit Mongolia again soon.
source: 'The Mongol Messenger' MONGOLIA’S FIRST ENGLISH WEEKLY PUBLISHED BY MONTSAME NEWS AGENCY
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