President Halonen arrives in Mongolia - without reindeer

President of the Republic Tarja Halonen and Dr Pentti Arajärvi began an official visit to Mongolia on August 30th. Halonen is the first Finnish president to visit Mongolia.
      The initial plan was that President Halonen and her delegation would bring to the country live Finnish reindeer, reindeer semen, or embryos to help diversify the gene pool of the dwindling Mongolian reindeer herds. However, the idea failed owing to practical reasons.
The idea of providing Mongolia with reindeer came up last year when Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj visited Finland and asked for help in revitalising the country’s troubled reindeer husbandry.
      On Tuesday, Elbegdorj was naturally disappointed when Halonen's entourage stepped off the plane without any antlered animals in tow.
      ”Our reindeer population is currently small and it should be improved. During this visit, we intend to discuss further how we could proceed in the matter”, Elbegdorj reported on Monday to the Finnish press in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia.
      Mongolia’s current reindeer population is only just over 1,000 animals, and the national herd is largely in-bred. The Mongolian reindeer face extinction, which would bring to an end about 3,000 years of reindeer herding culture in the country.
President Halonen is being accompanied by Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb and a delegation of Finnish business executives.
      International investors are interested in Mongolia, as the country has natural resources, for example copper, coal, and uranium deposits.
      During the visit President Halonen will also meet the Mongolian President, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Social Welfare and Labour, the Chairman of the Parliament, and representatives of the Human Rights Commission.
      Officially, President Halonen’s visit to Mongolia has begun today - Wednesday.
According to President Elbegdorj, the visit is ”a landmark” in the relations between the two countries.
      ”Finland is an exemplary country when it comes to human rights and a low level of corruption, which is very important for us. Mongolians are very happy to host Halonen’s visit”, Elbegdorj noted.
      In August, Mongolia has also attracted high-level officials from other countries. Prior to Halonen’s visit, for example US Vice President Joseph Biden, President Lee Myung-bak from South Korea, as well as a high-ranking Chinese delegation all paid a visit to the country.
      ”A Mongolian proverb says that it is always good to have guests. Good families have a lot of guests, and there are also plenty of fish in good waters. These visits are a sign of respect for our country”, noted Mongolia’s Foreign Minister Gombojav Zandanshatar, speaking at a press conference.


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