Mongolia expects integrating own dev. plan with regional initiatives

ULAN BATOR, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia hopes to dovetail its ambitious Steppe Road plan with such regional undertakings as the China-proposed Belt and Road initiatives, said a senior official.
The Steppe Road, an infrastructure construction proposal aimed at boosting the Mongolian economy through trans-border transportation, is not a one-country mission, new Minister of State Mendsaikhany Enkhsaikhan told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Mongolia, as a country between China and Russia, should serve as the transportation channel for the two big countries, he said, adding that only through the joint efforts of the three sides will the Steppe Road plan be properly implemented.
He called for a three-party mechanism to discuss how to integrate the Mongolian plan with the Beijing-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt initiative as well as with the Eurasian Economic Union.
The Steppe Road project, with an estimated investment of 50 billion U.S. dollars, includes a 997-km highway connecting China and Russia and a 1,100-km electrified railway, according to the minister.
It also includes the expansion of existing Mongolian rail system and the construction of natural gas and oil pipelines, added Enkhsaikhan, who is now in charge of the plan.
With rich resources, Mongolia had enjoyed fast economic growth before the pace slowed down over the last few years, with foreign direct investment having also plummeted.
Enkhsaikhan said he looks forward to the early operation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and its financial help for improving his land-locked country's infrastructure.
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