Germany chancellor Merkel eyes airline, commodities cooperation with Mongolia

(Reuters) - Mongolian airlines want to intensify cooperation with German flag carrier Lufthansa , Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday after talks with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj that also touched on a commodities partnership.
At a joint news conference, Merkel said the two leaders had discussed the interest from Mongolian airlines in forging closer ties with Lufthansa.
"In Germany the government doesn't do that, the companies have to do it. We want to talk to Lufthansa to call their attention to the potential cooperation and maybe there can be an intensification of the cooperation between Lufthansa and Mongolian airlines," said Merkel.
Lufthansa was not immediately available for comment.
Merkel also emphasised Germany's interest in pursuing a commodities agreement signed in 2011 when she visited the Central Asian country.
Mongolia, which has Russia and China as its neighbours, has large quantities of natural resources including copper, gold, silver and uranium deposits. It also has big reserves of rare earths which the high-tech industry needs to make products.
Merkel outlined the difficulties involved in getting start-up financing for infrastructure and mining projects, and the need for infrastructure expansion in Mongolia.
"Thirdly, Mongolia has big neighbours who have their own ideas about infrastructure," said Merkel, pointing mainly to Russia and the need to discuss with Moscow ways to make exporting materials from Mongolia to Europe easier.
"I don't think that things are hopeless," said Merkel. (Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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